Scientists of the Biological Institute of Tomsk State University within the framework of the strategic project "Engineering Biology" are developing ways to increase the content of biologically active substances in medicinal and agricultural plants, reports press service of TSU. The research was supported by the federal program "Priority 2030".
“We are studying the regulation of the synthesis of secondary metabolites of the most popular food plants among Russians - cucumber and potato, as well as medicinal plants - bitter orgaadai and lychnis calcedony,” says Ekaterina Boyko, researcher at the Department of Plant Physiology, Biotechnology and Bioinformatics of the Biological Institute of TSU. - Secondary metabolites, unlike primary ones, have a functional significance not at the cell level, but at the level of the whole plant. They perform "ecological" functions: they protect the plant from pests and pathogens, participate in reproduction, and ensure the interaction of plants with each other and with other organisms in the ecosystem.
For humans, secondary plant metabolites are a valuable source of useful compounds that are promising not only for pharmacology, but also for the food industry, perfumery and cosmetics industry, and others.
The study of the level of secondary metabolites in agricultural crops will indirectly improve the quality of food products and the medicinal properties of plants. Moreover, the study of these processes can reveal new properties in long-known representatives of the flora and expand the areas of their use.
The definition of "responsive" synthesis processes in the course of new studies will allow TSU biologists to directly "connect" signaling molecules (for example, gas transmitters, calcium) in the future to accelerate the production of secondary metabolites. In the future, this is the path to targeted modification of the genome.
“For the time being, we manage without the introduction of new designs,” explains Irina Golovatskaya, project manager. – At the beginning of the journey, we are looking for switching points in the metabolism of flavonoids (many of which are plant pigments) with the help of phytohormones. We are interested in how the pathways for the synthesis of secondary metabolites differ or are similar in different plant models. For example, what groups of flavonoids are formed in response to the action of a growth regulator of external origin, its size and nature, what growth response of plants or cell culture will follow. In this case, the natural adaptive capabilities of culture cells or plants will be used without changing the genome so far.
Ultimately, the results of research by TSU biologists will contribute to the creation of environmentally friendly and highly productive lines of agricultural crops, as well as medicinal plants with a high content of biologically active substances.