Crop Biotech Update

Expression of β-glucosidase Increases Trichome Density and Artemisinin Content in Sweet Wormwood

September 16, 2015

Artemisinin is effective against strains of Plasmodium falciparum, the causal agent of the most severe form of malaria. However, low accumulation of artemisinin in sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua) is a major limitation for production and delivery to malaria plague areas of the world. Several strategies to enhance artemisinin have been explored, however, enhancing storage capacity in trichomes has not yet been considered.

Nameirakpam Dolendro Singh of the CIBUS LLC US, together with other researchers, increased the trichome density through the expression of β-glucosidase (bgl1) gene in sweet wormwood. Trichome density increased up to 20% in leaves and 66% in flowers of transgenic plants compared to control plants. Further analysis data showed that artemisinin content increased up to 1.4% in leaves and 2.56% in flowers.

The study shows the possibility of increasing artemisinin content by manipulating trichomes' density. Combining genetic engineering with enhancing trichome density may further increase artemisinin yield in sweet wormwood.

 For more information, read the full article in Plant Biotechnology Journal.