Metabolomics Analysis Reveals Both Plant Variety and Choice of Hormone Treatment Modulate Vinca Alkaloid Production in Catharanthus Roseus.

The medicinal plant Catharanthus roseusproduces numerous secondary metabolites of interest for the treatment of many diseases—most notably for the terpene indole alkaloid (TIA) vinblastine, which is used in the treatment of leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Historically, methyl jasmonate (MeJA) has been used to induce TIA production, but in the past, this has only been investigated in either whole seedlings, cell culture, or hairy root culture. In this work, we investigate the induction capabilities of MeJA and ethylene, a different phytohormone, in both the shoots and roots of two varieties of C. roseus. Using LCMS and RT-qPCR, we demonstrate the importance of variety selection, as we observe markedly different induction patterns of important TIA precursor compounds. Additionally, both phytohormone choice and concentration have significant effects on TIA biosynthesis. Finally, our study suggests that several early-induction pathway steps as well as pathway-specific genes are likely to be transcriptionally regulated. Our findings highlight the need for a complete set of ’omics resources in commonly used C. roseus varieties.