Plants, as factories of natural substances and edible oils

Á. Máthé
Plant biodiversity is a source of natural substances produced in many forms and compositions. Under the influence of ecological factors, green plants, as factories, are capable of converting captured solar energy into a multiplicity of versatile organic substances and frequently specialized metabolites. We already exploit these as nutrients, edible oils, medicines, colors, scents and flavors. Photosynthesis, as the basic “manufacturing process” of the primary metabolism takes place under varied conditions, indicating the tolerance and adaptability of plants. Products of the secondary metabolism have important ecological functions, like adaptive significance in protection, as attractants, repellents e.g., for pollinators and pests, respectively. Allelochemicals can influence the competition among plant species. Exploring the scientific basis of these processes starts with the study of general, scientific aspects of “plant factories”. Botany, biochemistry, genetics, physiology and plant-breeding are the sciences that assist to improve crop productivity, quality. As a result of successful research, MAP production can be optimized to resemble industrial production. Biotechnological production of natural products - an attractive alternative - has had only limited success. Recent advances in plant genomics and metabolite profiling seem to offer unprecedented possibilities. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of all metabolites by new analytical techniques combined with powerful tools of functional genomics can be used to elucidate the biosynthetic pathways of natural products and to assist quality control of plant materials. As such they can efficiently contribute to the safety and efficacy of plant medicines.
Máthé, Á. (2016). Plants, as factories of natural substances and edible oils. Acta Hortic. 1125, 353-360
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1125.46
medicinal and aromatic plants, natural substances, edible oils, plant factory, secondary metabolites

Acta Horticulturae