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Special Issue "Products of Plant Specialized Metabolism: Pharmaceutical, Biotechnological and Biological Functions"

A special issue of Molecules (ISSN 1420-3049). This special issue belongs to the section "Natural Products Chemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Sławomir Dresler
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Plant Physiology and Biophysics, Institute of Biological Science, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Akademicka 13 st. 20-033 Lublin, 20-033 Lublin, Poland
Interests: plant physiology; secondary metabolites; plant environmental stress physiology; metal phytotoxicity
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Barbara Hawrylak-Nowak
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Unit of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, Department of Botany and Plant Physiology, Faculty of Environmental Biology, University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Akademicka 15, 20-950 Lublin, Poland
Interests: plant physiology; mineral nutrition; stress response and resistance; trace elements; plant ecophysiology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Plant specialized metabolites (traditionally known as plant secondary metabolites) are a large group consisting of over 200,000 compounds biosynthesized via various plant metabolic pathways. These metabolites are a source of pharmacological and medicinally useful bioactive substances. However, besides their usefulness to humans, secondary metabolites are considered as pivotal elements of plant life, evolution, and mutualism, and thus the global ecosystem.
This Special Issue is related to a wide array topics including the biochemistry, biological activity, and functional roles of specialized metabolites. Particularly, we welcome research and review articles that contribute to the following topics (but not limited to these):

  • Biological activities of specialized metabolites;
  • Biosynthesis of plant metabolites;
  • Specialized metabolites in plant signaling and communication;
  • Chemometric tools in the exploration of plant specialized metabolites;
  • Role of diverse abiotic and biotic elicitors in the stimulation of the biosynthesis of metabolites in plants;
  • Biotechnology techniques in modification and production of plants metabolites;
  • Role of specialized metabolites in plant stress resistance;
  • In vitro production of secondary metabolites;
  • Therapeutic potential of products of plant specialized metabolism.

Dr. Sławomir Dresler
Dr. Barbara Hawrylak-Nowak
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Molecules is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • plant secondary metabolites
  • biologically active compounds
  • elicitors
  • phytochemical composition
  • chemometrics
  • plant stress response
  • biotechnological modification of metabolites

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
A Chemometry of Aldrovanda vesiculosa L. (Waterwheel, Droseraceae) Populations
Molecules 2021, 26(1), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26010072 - 25 Dec 2020
Viewed by 987
Abstract
The genus Aldrovanda is a Palaeogene element containing a single extant species, Aldrovanda vesiculosa L. This aquatic carnivorous herb has a very wide range of distribution, natively covering four continents; however, it is a critically endangered aquatic plant species worldwide. Previous studies revealed [...] Read more.
The genus Aldrovanda is a Palaeogene element containing a single extant species, Aldrovanda vesiculosa L. This aquatic carnivorous herb has a very wide range of distribution, natively covering four continents; however, it is a critically endangered aquatic plant species worldwide. Previous studies revealed that A. vesiculosa had an extremely low genetic variation. The main aim of the present paper is to explore, using chemometric tools, the diversity of 16 A. vesiculosa populations from various sites from four continents (Eurasia, Africa, Australia). Using chemometric data as markers for genetic diversity, we show the relationships of 16 A. vesiculosa populations from various sites, including four continents. Phytochemical markers allowed the identification of five well-supported (bootstrap > 90%) groups among the 16 populations sampled. The principal component analysis data support the idea that the strongly related African (Botswana) and Australian (Kimberley, NT, NW Australia) populations are the most distant ones, separated from the European and Asian ones. However, considering the five Australian populations sampled, three are nested within the Eurasian group. The chemometric data are correlated positively with the geographical distances between the samples, which suggests a tendency toward isolation for the most distant populations. Full article
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Article
Production of Defense Phenolics in Tomato Leaves of Different Age
Molecules 2020, 25(21), 4952; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25214952 - 26 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 574
Abstract
Phenolics play an essential role in the defense reaction of crop plants against pathogens. However, the intensity of their production induced by infection may differ during the life of a plant. Here, we identified age-related differences in phenolic biosynthesis in the pathosystem Solanum [...] Read more.
Phenolics play an essential role in the defense reaction of crop plants against pathogens. However, the intensity of their production induced by infection may differ during the life of a plant. Here, we identified age-related differences in phenolic biosynthesis in the pathosystem Solanum lycopersicum cv. Amateur and Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000. We analyzed concentrations of total phenolics, phenolic profiles, and concentrations of selected phenolic acids. The influence of bacterial infection, together with leaf and plant age, was assessed. The changes in concentrations of caffeic acid, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, and salicylic acid glucoside caused by infection were found to be influenced by age. In concrete, the increases in the concentrations of these metabolites were all evident only in young plants. Full article
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Article
Biochemical Characterization of a Flavonoid O-methyltransferase from Perilla Leaves and Its Application in 7-Methoxyflavonoid Production
Molecules 2020, 25(19), 4455; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25194455 - 28 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 783
Abstract
Methylation is a common structural modification that can alter and improve the biological activities of natural compounds. O-Methyltransferases (OMTs) catalyze the methylation of a wide array of secondary metabolites, including flavonoids, and are potentially useful tools for the biotechnological production of valuable [...] Read more.
Methylation is a common structural modification that can alter and improve the biological activities of natural compounds. O-Methyltransferases (OMTs) catalyze the methylation of a wide array of secondary metabolites, including flavonoids, and are potentially useful tools for the biotechnological production of valuable natural products. An OMT gene (PfOMT3) was isolated from perilla leaves as a putative flavonoid OMT (FOMT). Phylogenetic analysis and sequence comparisons showed that PfOMT3 is a class II OMT. Recombinant PfOMT3 catalyzed the methylation of flavonoid substrates, whereas no methylated product was detected in PfOMT3 reactions with phenylpropanoid substrates. Structural analyses of the methylation products revealed that PfOMT3 regiospecifically transfers a methyl group to the 7-OH of flavonoids. These results indicate that PfOMT3 is an FOMT that catalyzes the 7-O-methylation of flavonoids. PfOMT3 methylated diverse flavonoids regardless of their backbone structure. Chrysin, naringenin and apigenin were found to be the preferred substrates of PfOMT3. Recombinant PfOMT3 showed moderate OMT activity toward eriodictyol, luteolin and kaempferol. To assess the biotechnological potential of PfOMT3, the biotransformation of flavonoids was performed using PfOMT3-transformed Escherichia coli. Naringenin and kaempferol were successfully bioconverted to the 7-methylated products sakuranetin and rhamnocitrin, respectively, by E. coli harboring PfOMT3. Full article
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Article
Extracts from Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. et Maxim.) Maxim. Roots: A New Hope Against Honeybee Death Caused by Nosemosis
Molecules 2020, 25(19), 4452; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25194452 - 28 Sep 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1115
Abstract
Pollinators, the cornerstones of our terrestrial ecosystem, have been at the very core of our anxiety. This is because we can nowadays observe a dangerous decline in the number of insects. With the numbers of pollinators dramatically declining worldwide, the scientific community has [...] Read more.
Pollinators, the cornerstones of our terrestrial ecosystem, have been at the very core of our anxiety. This is because we can nowadays observe a dangerous decline in the number of insects. With the numbers of pollinators dramatically declining worldwide, the scientific community has been growing more and more concerned about the future of insects as fundamental elements of most terrestrial ecosystems. Trying to address this issue, we looked for substances that might increase bee resistance. To this end, we checked the effects of plant-based adaptogens on honeybees in laboratory tests and during field studies on 30 honeybee colonies during two seasons. In this study, we have tested extracts obtained from: Eleutherococcus senticosus, Garcinia cambogia, Panax ginseng, Ginkgo biloba, Schisandra chinensis, and Camellia sinensis. The 75% ethanol E. senticosus root extract proved to be the most effective, both as a cure and in the prophylaxis of nosemosis. Therefore, Eleutherococcus senticosus, and its active compounds, eleutherosides, are considered the most powerful adaptogens, in the pool of all extracts that were selected for screening, for supporting immunity and improving resistance of honeybees. The optimum effective concentration of 0.4 mg/mL E. senticosus extract responded to c.a. 5.76, 2.56 and 0.07 µg/mL of eleutheroside B, eleutheroside E and naringenin, respectively. The effect of E. senticosus extracts on honeybees involved a similar adaptogenic response as on other animals, including humans. In this research, we show for the first time such an adaptogenic impact on invertebrates, i.e., the effect on honeybees stressed by nosemosis. We additionally hypothesised that these adaptogenic properties were connected with eleutherosides—secondary metabolites found exclusively in the Eleutherococcus genus and undetected in other studied extracts. As was indicated in this study, eleutherosides are very stable chemically and can be found in extracts in similar amounts even after two years from extraction. Considering the role bees play in nature, we may conclude that demonstrating the adaptogenic properties which plant extracts have in insects is the most significant finding resulting from this research. This knowledge might bring to fruition numerous economic and ecological benefits. Full article
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Article
MALDI-HRMS Imaging Maps the Localization of Skyrin, the Precursor of Hypericin, and Pathway Intermediates in Leaves of Hypericum Species
Molecules 2020, 25(17), 3964; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25173964 - 31 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 857
Abstract
Hypericum perforatum and related species (Hypericaceae) are a reservoir of pharmacologically important secondary metabolites, including the well-known naphthodianthrone hypericin. However, the exact biosynthetic steps in the hypericin biosynthetic pathway, vis-à-vis the essential precursors and their localization in plants, remain unestablished. Recently, we proposed [...] Read more.
Hypericum perforatum and related species (Hypericaceae) are a reservoir of pharmacologically important secondary metabolites, including the well-known naphthodianthrone hypericin. However, the exact biosynthetic steps in the hypericin biosynthetic pathway, vis-à-vis the essential precursors and their localization in plants, remain unestablished. Recently, we proposed a novel biosynthetic pathway of hypericin, not through emodin and emodin anthrone, but skyrin. However, the localization of skyrin and its precursors in Hypericum plants, as well as the correlation between their spatial distribution with the hypericin pathway intermediates and the produced naphthodianthrones, are not known. Herein, we report the spatial distribution of skyrin and its precursors in leaves of five in vitro cultivated Hypericum plant species concomitant to hypericin, its analogs, as well as its previously proposed precursors emodin and emodin anthrone, using MALDI-HRMS imaging. Firstly, we employed HPLC-HRMS to confirm the presence of skyrin in all analyzed species, namely H. humifusum, H. bupleuroides, H. annulatum, H. tetrapterum, and H. rumeliacum. Thereafter, MALDI-HRMS imaging of the skyrin-containing leaves revealed a species-specific distribution and localization pattern of skyrin. Skyrin is localized in the dark glands in H. humifusum and H. tetrapterum leaves together with hypericin but remains scattered throughout the leaves in H. annulatum, H. bupleuroides, and H. rumeliacum. The distribution and localization of related compounds were also mapped and are discussed concomitant to the incidence of skyrin. Taken together, our study establishes and correlates for the first time, the high spatial distribution of skyrin and its precursors, as well as of hypericin, its analogs, and previously proposed precursors emodin and emodin anthrone in the leaves of Hypericum plants. Full article
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Article
The Impact of Different Cultivation Systems on the Content of Selected Secondary Metabolites and Antioxidant Activity of Carlina acaulis Plant Material
Molecules 2020, 25(1), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25010146 - 30 Dec 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1167
Abstract
Roots and leaves of Carlina acaulis L. are still used in ethnomedicine in many European countries; however, the limited occurrence of the plants and protection of this species necessitate a search for alternative ways for obtaining this plant material. In this study, in [...] Read more.
Roots and leaves of Carlina acaulis L. are still used in ethnomedicine in many European countries; however, the limited occurrence of the plants and protection of this species necessitate a search for alternative ways for obtaining this plant material. In this study, in vitro cultures, hydroponic cultures, and field cultivation were applied to obtain the C. acaulis plant material. Its quality was evaluated using antioxidant activity tests and high performance liquid chromatography analysis. Our study showed that the antioxidant activity and the content of chlorogenic and 3,5-di-caffeoylquinic acid in roots of plants cultivated in hydroponics and field conditions were comparable. However, the amount of carlina oxide was significantly higher in plants from the field. The flavonoid content in leaves obtained from both cultivation systems was at the same level; however, the antioxidant activity and the content of the investigated metabolites were higher in the soil cultivation system. The callus line exhibited high differentiation in phytochemical compositions depending on the treatments and medium compositions. Full article
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