Frontiers of Medicine

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 137–146 | Cite as

Effects of different doses of cadmium on secondary metabolites and gene expression in Artemisia annua L.

  • Liangyun Zhou
  • Guang Yang
  • Haifeng Sun
  • Jinfu Tang
  • Jian Yang
  • Yizhan Wang
  • Thomas Avery Garran
  • Lanping Guo
Research Article


This study aims to elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms of artemisinin accumulation induced by Cd. The effects of different Cd concentrations (0, 20, 60, and 120 μmol/L) on the biosynthesis of Artemisia annua L. were examined. Intermediate and end products were quantified by HPLC-ESI-MS/MS analysis. The expression of key biosynthesis enzymes was also determined by qRT-PCR. The results showed that the application of treatment with 60 and 120 μmol/L Cd for 3 days significantly improved the biosynthesis of artemisinic acid, arteannuin B, and artemisinin. The concentrations of artemisinic acid, arteannuin B, and artemisinin in the 120 μmol/L Cd-treated group were 2.26, 102.08, and 33.63 times higher than those in the control group, respectively. The concentrations of arteannuin B and artemisinin in 60 μmol/L Cd-treated leaves were 61.10 and 26.40 times higher than those in the control group, respectively. The relative expression levels of HMGR, FPS, ADS, CYP71AV1, DBR2, ALDH1, and DXR were up-regulated in the 120 μmol/L Cd-treated group because of increased contents of artemisinic metabolites after 3 days of treatment. Hence, appropriate doses of Cd can increase the concentrations of artemisinic metabolites at a certain time point by up-regulating the relative expression levels of key enzyme genes involved in artemisinin biosynthesis.


Cd secondary metabolites gene expressions Artemisia annua L. 


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This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 81130070, 81325023, and 81473307), Natural Key Technologies R&D Program of China (Nos. 2012BAI29B02 and 2012BAI28B02), and the Innovative Funding for PhD Students at China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences (No. CX201608).


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liangyun Zhou
    • 1
  • Guang Yang
    • 1
  • Haifeng Sun
    • 2
  • Jinfu Tang
    • 1
  • Jian Yang
    • 1
  • Yizhan Wang
    • 3
  • Thomas Avery Garran
    • 1
  • Lanping Guo
    • 1
  1. 1.The State Key Laboratory Breeding Base of Dao-di Herbs, National Resource Center for Chinese Materia MedicaChina Academy of Chinese Medical SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.College of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringShanxi UniversityTaiyuanChina
  3. 3.Eye HospitalChina Academy of Chinese Medical SciencesBeijingChina

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