Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 689–694

Metabolic engineering of artemisinin biosynthesis in Artemisia annua L.

  • Benye Liu
  • Hong Wang
  • Zhigao Du
  • Guofeng Li
  • Hechun Ye


Artemisinin, a sesquiterpene lactone isolated from the Chinese medicinal plant Artemisia annua L., is an effective antimalarial agent, especially for multi-drug resistant and cerebral malaria. To date, A. annua is still the only commercial source of artemisinin. The low concentration of artemisinin in A. annua, ranging from 0.01 to 0.8% of the plant dry weight, makes artemisinin relatively expensive and difficult to meet the demand of over 100 million courses of artemisinin-based combinational therapies per year. Since the chemical synthesis of artemisinin is not commercially feasible at present, another promising approach to reduce the price of artemisinin-based antimalarial drugs is metabolic engineering of the plant to obtain a higher content of artemisinin in transgenic plants. In the past decade, we have established an Agrobacterium-mediated transformation system of A. annua, and have successfully transferred a number of genes related to artemisinin biosynthesis into the plant. The various aspects of these efforts are discussed in this review.


Artemisia annua Artemisinin Metabolic engineering Metabolic profiling 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benye Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hong Wang
    • 1
  • Zhigao Du
    • 1
  • Guofeng Li
    • 1
  • Hechun Ye
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Photosynthesis and Environmental Molecular Physiology, Institute of BotanyThe Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Pharmaceutical BiologyTechnical University BraunschweigBraunschweigGermany

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