Plant Biol (Stuttg) 2007; 9(6): 793-799
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-965250
Short Research Paper

Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart KG · New York

Cell Suspension as a Tool to Study the Biosynthesis of Pilocarpine in Jaborandi

I. N. Abreu1 , N. L. Andreazza1 , A. C. H. F. Sawaya2 , M. N. Eberlin2 , P. Mazzafera1
  • 1Departamento de Fisiologia Vegetal, Instituto de Biologia, C.P. 6109, 13083-970 Campinas, SP, Brasil
  • 2Instituto de Química, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, C.P. 6109, 13083-970 Campinas, SP, Brasil
Further Information

Publication History

Received: January 18, 2007

Accepted: March 20, 2007

Publication Date:
07 August 2007 (online)


Jaborandi (Pilocarpus microphyllus) is a species that naturally occurs in the North and Northeast of Brazil, whose leaves produce pilocarpine (an imidazole alkaloid that has been used to treat glaucoma and xerostomy), the biosynthesis of which is still uncertain. The aim of this work was to establish cell lineages and select them according to an alkaloid profile similar to the one from Jaborandi leaves. The induction of callus was done in different culture media and growth regulators. Calluses from primary cultures or those subcultured several times were used as explants for the obtainment of six cell lineages. Alkaloids content analyses and growth curves showed that lines obtained from primary cultures produced more alkaloids and a better development. Cell lines from 12 subcultures presented a decrease in pilocarpine and pilosine production. After 24 subcultures, the production of alkaloids remained constant. ESI-MS analysis showed that cell culture extracts have the same alkaloid composition as extracts made from leaves. The results indicate that cell suspensions can be used as a model to study the biosynthesis of the imidazole alkaloid in P. microphyllus.


I. N. de Abreu

Departamento de Fisiologia Vegetal
Instituto de Biologia

C.P. 6109

13083-970 Campinas, SP



Editor: E. Pichersky