Bioactive Compounds of Camu-Camu (Myrciaria dubia (Kunth) McVaugh)

  • Juan C. CastroEmail author
  • J. Dylan Maddox
  • Marianela Cobos
  • Jae D. Paredes
  • Jorge L. Marapara
  • Janeth Braga
  • Sixto A. Imán
  • Hicler N. Rodríguez
  • Carlos G. Castro
Living reference work entry
Part of the Reference Series in Phytochemistry book series (RSP)


Camu-camu is a shrub, native to the Amazon that thrives in areas where flooding is frequent. Genetically, the plant is characterized by a diploid genome and moderate genetic diversity. Several parts of the plant are used in traditional folk medicine to treat a variety of acute and chronic diseases. For over 50 years, the exceptionally high vitamin C content of camu-camu has attracted worldwide attention that continues today because of the recent discovery of several health-promoting phytochemicals with corroborated biological activities (e.g., antioxidant, anti-obesity, antidiabetic). All of these beneficial attributes are well supported by in vitro and in vivo studies as well as human clinical trials. The metabolic precursors of these phytochemicals are synthesized in key metabolic pathways (i.e., the shikimate pathway, the mevalonate pathway). Of these metabolic pathways, we show details for the biosynthesis of betulinic acid, trans-resveratrol, and syringic acid. In conclusion, camu-camu is an exceptional plant for its ability to produce and accumulate significant amounts of a variety of health-promoting phytochemicals. Although several metabolic pathways responsible for the biosynthesis of these phytochemicals have been reconstructed based on fruit and seedling transcriptomes, detailed knowledge of the vast majority of metabolic pathways and their molecular regulatory mechanisms is lacking. Consequently, we must increase our knowledge of the metabolic processes using multi-omic approaches so that we can acquire the skills necessary to develop genetically improved varieties of camu-camu and implement biotechnological applications for the production of these bioactive phytochemicals.


Bioactive compounds Biosynthetic pathways Nutraceuticals Phytochemicals Polyphenols 



We thank the Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana (UNAP) for providing funds to develop the research projects approved by R.R. N° 1657-2012-UNAP and R.R. N° 0686-2015-UNAP. We also thank the National Institute of Agricultural Innovation (INIA) – San Roque-Iquitos for providing access to the germplasm collection of camu-camu.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan C. Castro
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • J. Dylan Maddox
    • 3
    • 4
  • Marianela Cobos
    • 5
  • Jae D. Paredes
    • 5
  • Jorge L. Marapara
    • 1
    • 2
  • Janeth Braga
    • 2
  • Sixto A. Imán
    • 6
  • Hicler N. Rodríguez
    • 1
  • Carlos G. Castro
    • 1
  1. 1.Specialized Unit of Biotechnology, Research Center of Natural Resources of the Amazon (CIRNA)National University of the Peruvian Amazon (UNAP)IquitosPeru
  2. 2.Academic Department of Biomedical Sciences and Biotechnology, Faculty of Biological SciencesNational University of the Peruvian Amazon (UNAP)IquitosPeru
  3. 3.Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and EvolutionThe Field Museum of Natural HistoryChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Environmental SciencesAmerican Public University SystemCharles TownUSA
  5. 5.Laboratory of Biotechnology and BioenergeticsScientific University of Peru (UCP)IquitosPeru
  6. 6.Conservation Area of Plant Genetic ResourcesNational Institute of Agricultural Innovation (INIA)IquitosPeru

Section editors and affiliations

  • Hosakatte Niranjana Murthy
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BotanyKarnatak UniversityDharwadIndia
  2. 2.Department of Horticulture, Division of Animal, Horticultural and Food SciencesChungbuk National UniversityChenogjuRepublic of Korea

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