Modifications in steroid and triterpenoid metabolism in Calendula officinalis plants and hairy root culture in response to chitosan treatment

BMC Plant Biol. 2023 May 18;23(1):263. doi: 10.1186/s12870-023-04261-4.


BACKGROUND: Chitosan, a deacetylated derivative of chitin, is one of the most preferred biopolymers for use as biostimulants and biofertilizers in organic agriculture and as elicitors to enhance the productivity of plant in vitro cultures. Valued as a non-toxic, biodegradable, and environment-friendly agent, it is widely applied to improve plant growth and yield, the content of bioactive specialized metabolites, and resistance to stress conditions and pathogens. However, the influence of chitosan on the growth-defense trade-off, particularly the interplay between steroid and triterpenoid metabolism, has not been extensively investigated.

RESULTS: In this study, Calendula officinalis pot plants and hairy root cultures exposed to chitosan treatment displayed reduced biomass and altered steroid and triterpenoid metabolism. Biosynthesis and accumulation of free forms of sterols (particularly stigmasterol) were inhibited, while the content of sterol esters increased remarkably. The content of some triterpenoids (mainly free triterpenoid acids) was slightly enhanced; however, the biosynthesis of triterpenoid saponins was negatively affected.

CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that in certain plants, chitosan treatment might not positively influence the growth and metabolite production. Therefore, to avoid unexpected effects, initial studies of the conditions of chitosan treatment are recommended, including the dose and the number of chitosan applications, the type of treatment (e.g., foliar or soil), and the vegetative stage of the treated plants.

PMID:37198538 | PMC:PMC10193699 | DOI:10.1186/s12870-023-04261-4


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