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Molecules 2009, 14(2), 682-725;

Factors Affecting Polyphenol Biosynthesis in Wild and Field Grown St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum L. Hypericaceae/Guttiferae)

Dip. di Biologia Evolutiva e Funzionale – Sez. Biologia Vegetale, Viale G. Usberti 11A, I-43100, Università degli Studi di Parma, Italy
Dip. di Biologia ed Evoluzione – Sez. Risorse Agrotecnologiche e Farmaceutiche AgriUnife, Ercole d’Este 32, I-44100, Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 December 2008 / Revised: 22 January 2009 / Accepted: 6 February 2009 / Published: 11 February 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenolics and Polyphenolics)
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The increasing diffusion of herbal products is posing new questions: why are products so often different in their composition and efficacy? Which approach is more suitable to increase the biochemical productivity of medicinal plants with large-scale, low-cost solutions? Can the phytochemical profile of a medicinal plant be modulated in order to increase the accumulation of its most valuable constituents? Will polyphenol-rich medicinal crops ever be traded as commodities? Providing a proactive answer to such questions is an extremely hard task, due to the large number of variables involved: intraspecific chemodiversity, plant breeding, ontogenetic stage, post-harvest handling, biotic and abiotic factors, to name but a few. An ideal path in this direction should include the definition of optimum pre-harvesting and post-harvesting conditions and the availability of specific Good Agricultural Practices centered on secondary metabolism enhancement. The first steps to be taken are undoubtedly the evaluation and the organization of scattered data regarding the diverse factors involved in the optimization of medicinal plant cultivation, in order to provide an interdisciplinary overview of main possibilities, weaknesses and drawbacks. This review is intended to be a synopsis of the knowledge on this regard focused on Hypericum perforatum L. (Hypericaceae/Guttiferae) secondary metabolites of phenolic origin, with the aim to provide a reference and suggest an evolution towards the maximization of St. John's Wort bioactive constituents. Factors considered emerged not only from in-field agronomic results, but also from physiological, genetical, biotic, abiotic and phytochemical data that could be scaled up to the application level. To increase quality for final beneficiaries, growers’ profits and ultimately transform phenolic-rich medicinal crops into commodities, the emerging trend suggests an integrated and synergic approach. Agronomy and genetics will need to develop their breeding strategies taking account of the suggestions of phytochemistry, biochemistry, pharmacognosy and pharmacology, without losing sight of the economic balance of the production. View Full-Text
Keywords: Hypericum perforatum; Hypericins; Polyphenols; Flavonoids; Secondary metabolism optimization Hypericum perforatum; Hypericins; Polyphenols; Flavonoids; Secondary metabolism optimization

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Bruni, R.; Sacchetti, G. Factors Affecting Polyphenol Biosynthesis in Wild and Field Grown St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum L. Hypericaceae/Guttiferae). Molecules 2009, 14, 682-725.

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