Acta Physiologiae Plantarum

, Volume 35, Issue 11, pp 3271–3275 | Cite as

Light stress suppresses the accumulation of epimedins A, B, C, and icariin in Epimedium, a traditional medicinal plant

  • Shaohua Zeng
  • Yilan Liu
  • Ying WangEmail author
Short Communication


Epimedium is well-known in China and East Asia due to high content of flavonoid derivatives, including icariin, epimedin A, epimedin B, and epimedin C, hereafter designated as bioactive components, which have been extensively utilized to cure many diseases. So far, the molecular mechanism of the bioactive components biosynthesis remains unclear. In the present study, the effect of light stress (24 h illumination) on the accumulation of bioactive components and the expression of flavonoid genes in Epimedium was investigated. Under light stress, the structural genes CHS1, CHI1, F3H, FLS, DFR1, DFR2, and ANS were remarkably up-regulated while CHS2 and F3′H were significantly down-regulated. For transcription factors, the expression of Epimedium MYB7 and TT8 were increased while Epimedium GL3, MYBF, and TTG1 expression were depressed. Additionally, the content of bioactive components was significantly decreased under light stress. Our results suggested that the decrease of bioactive compounds may be attributed to transcripts of late genes (DFRs and ANS) increased to a higher level than that of early genes (FLS and CHS1).


Bioactive components Epimedium Flavonoid biosynthesis Light stress 



Anthocyanin synthase


Chalcone isomerase


Chalcone synthase


Dihydroflavonol 4-reductase


Flavanone 3′ hydroxylase


Flavanone 3 hydroxylase


Flavonol synthase


High performance liquid chromatography


Polymerase chain reaction


Quantitative real-time PCR



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31270340 and 31200225), Instrument Developing Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (YZ201227), the South China Botanical Garden Startup Fund (201039), and the Knowledge Innovation Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KSCX2-EW-J-20).


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Copyright information

© Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Plant Resources Conservation and Sustainable Utilization, South China Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Plant Germplasm Enhancement and Specialty Agriculture, Wuhan Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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