Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 629–641 | Cite as

Stress and developmental responses of terpenoid biosynthetic genes in Cistus creticus subsp. creticus

Original Paper


Plants, and specially species adapted in non-friendly environments, produce secondary metabolites that help them to cope with biotic or abiotic stresses. These metabolites could be of great pharmaceutical interest because several of those show cytotoxic, antibacterial or antioxidant activities. Leaves’ trichomes of Cistus creticus ssp. creticus, a Mediterranean xerophytic shrub, excrete a resin rich in several labdane-type diterpenes with verified in vitro and in vivo cytotoxic and cytostatic activity against human cancer cell lines. Bearing in mind the properties and possible future exploitation of these natural products, it seemed interesting to study their biosynthesis and its regulation, initially at the molecular level. For this purpose, genes encoding enzymes participating in the early steps of the terpenoids biosynthetic pathways were isolated and their gene expression patterns were investigated in different organs and in response to various stresses and defence signals. The genes studied were the CcHMGR from the mevalonate pathway, CcDXS and CcDXR from the methylerythritol 4-phosphate pathway and the two geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthases (CcGGDPS1 and 2) previously characterized from this species. The present work indicates that the leaf trichomes are very active biosynthetically as far as it concerns terpenoids biosynthesis, and the terpenoid production from this tissue seems to be transcriptionally regulated. Moreover, the CcHMGR and CcDXS genes (the rate-limiting steps of the isoprenoids’ pathways) showed an increase during mechanical wounding and application of defence signals (like meJA and SA), which is possible to reflect an increased need of the plant tissues for the corresponding metabolites.


Cistus creticus subsp. creticus Secondary metabolism Terpenoid biosynthesis Hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMGR) 1-deoxy-d-xylulose-5-phosphate (DXP) synthase (DXS) DXP reductoisomerase (DXR) Geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase (GGDPS) Gene expression 



This research was partially supported from a grant (PENED 99ΕΔ 637) implemented within the framework of the “Reinforcement Programme of Human Research Manpower” and co-financed by National and Community Funds (25% from the Greek Ministry of Development-General Secretariat of Research and Technology and 75% from E.U.-European Social Fund).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Group of Biotechnology of Pharmaceutical Plants, Laboratory of Pharmacognosy, Department of Pharmaceutical SciencesAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  2. 2.Departament de Bioquímica i Biologia Molecular, Facultat de BiologiaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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