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A Journal on Biotechnology and Molecular Biology

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Minerva Biotecnologica 2005 September;17(3):119-25

language: English

Micro-organism-plant interactions as influencers of secondary metabolism in medicinal plants

Bruni R. 1, Sacchetti G. 2

1 Section of Vegetable Biology and Botanical Garden, Department of Evolutive and Functional Biology, University of Parma, Parma, Italy;
2 Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

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Over the last few decades, trends in herbal cropping have led to increased cultivation of medicinal plants, herbs and spices. With these new particular crops, however, unique diseases and pest problems are emerging. In terms of production, it is well known that plant pathologies can cause considerable losses in gross medicinal plant yield. Nevertheless, raw harvesting yield is not the sole key factor in determining the quality (and hence market value) of herbs intended for the phytotherapic market. The quality and therapeutic value of the products are, in fact, also determined by the abundance of specific secondary metabolites reputed responsible for the pharmacological activity of medicinal plants. As a direct consequence of its raison d’être, it is generally known that secondary metabolism in plants can be altered in response to biotic and abiotic factors, including exposure of individual plants to pathologies. However, only in few cases has the extent of such changes been investigated. This review summarizes the known relationships between phytopathological status and secondary metabolism of medicinal plants, with a specific overview on its biotechnological relapses.

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