Plant secondary metabolites produced in response to abiotic stresses has potential application in pharmaceutical product development

Yeshi, Karma, Crayn, Darren, Ritmejeryte, Edita, and Wangchuk, Phurpa (2022) Plant secondary metabolites produced in response to abiotic stresses has potential application in pharmaceutical product development. Molecules, 27 (1). 313.

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Plant secondary metabolites (PSMs) are vital for human health and constitute the skeletal framework of many pharmaceutical drugs. Indeed, more than 25% of the existing drugs belong to PSMs. One of the continuing challenges for drug discovery and pharmaceutical industries is gaining access to natural products, including medicinal plants. This bottleneck is heightened for endangered species prohibited for large sample collection, even if they show biological hits. While cultivating the pharmaceutically interesting plant species may be a solution, it is not always possible to grow the organism outside its natural habitat. Plants affected by abiotic stress present a potential alternative source for drug discovery. In order to overcome abiotic environmental stressors, plants may mount a defense response by producing a diversity of PSMs to avoid cells and tissue damage. Plants either synthesize new chemicals or increase the concentration (in most instances) of existing chemicals, including the prominent bioactive lead compounds morphine, camptothecin, catharanthine, epicatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), quercetin, resveratrol, and kaempferol. Most PSMs produced under various abiotic stress conditions are plant defense chemicals and are functionally anti-inflammatory and antioxidative. The major PSM groups are terpenoids, followed by alkaloids and phenolic compounds. We have searched the literature on plants affected by abiotic stress (primarily studied in the simulated growth conditions) and their PSMs (including pharmacological activities) from PubMed, Scopus, MEDLINE Ovid, Google Scholar, Databases, and journal websites. We used search keywords: “stress-affected plants,” “plant secondary metabolites, “abiotic stress,” “climatic influence,” “pharmacological activities,” “bioactive compounds,” “drug discovery,” and “medicinal plants” and retrieved published literature between 1973 to 2021. This review provides an overview of variation in bioactive phytochemical production in plants under various abiotic stress and their potential in the biodiscovery of therapeutic drugs. We excluded studies on the effects of biotic stress on PSMs.

Item ID: 71224
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1420-3049
Copyright Information: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Funders: James Cook University (JCU), National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Projects and Grants: NHMRC APP1183323
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2022 00:07
FoR Codes: 32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3205 Medical biochemistry and metabolomics > 320501 Medical biochemistry - amino acids and metabolites @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 30%
34 CHEMICAL SCIENCES > 3404 Medicinal and biomolecular chemistry > 340401 Biologically active molecules @ 20%
SEO Codes: 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1901 Adaptation to climate change > 190102 Ecosystem adaptation to climate change @ 100%
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