Plant growth and phytoactive alkaloid synthesis in kratom [Mitragyna speciosa (Korth.)] in response to varying radiance

PLoS One. 2022 Apr 26;17(4):e0259326. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0259326. eCollection 2022.


Leaves harvested from kratom [Mitragyna speciosa (Korth.)] have a history of use as a traditional ethnobotanical medicine to combat fatigue and improve work productivity in Southeast Asia. In recent years, increased interest in the application and use of kratom has emerged globally, including North America, for its potential application as an alternative source of medicine for pain management and opioid withdrawal syndrome mitigation. Although the chemistry and pharmacology of major kratom alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, are well documented, foundational information on the impact of plant production environment on growth and kratom alkaloids synthesis is unavailable. To directly address this need, kratom plant growth, leaf chlorophyll content, and alkaloid concentration were evaluated under three lighting conditions: field full sun (FLD-Sun), greenhouse unshaded (GH-Unshaded), and greenhouse shaded (GH-Shaded). Nine kratom alkaloids were quantified using an ultra-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) method. Greenhouse cultivation generally promoted kratom height and width extension by 93-114% and 53-57%, respectively, compared to FLD-Sun. Similarly, total leaf area and leaf number were increased by 118-160% and 54-80% under such conditions. Average leaf size of plants grown under GH-Shaded was 41 and 69% greater than GH-Unshaded and FLD-Sun, respectively; however, no differences were observed between GH-Unshaded and FLD-Sun treatments. At the termination of the study, total leaf chlorophyll a+b content of FLD-Sun was 17-23% less than those grown in the greenhouse. Total leaf dry mass was maximized when cultivated in the greenhouse and was 89-91% greater than in the field. Leaf content of four alkaloids to include speciociliatine, mitraphylline, corynantheidine, and isocorynantheidine were not significantly impacted by lighting conditions, whereas 7-hydroxymitragynine was below the lower limit of quantification across all treatments. However, mitragynine, paynantheine, and corynoxine concentration per leaf dry mass were increased by 40%, 35%, and 111%, respectively, when cultivated under GH-Shaded compared to FLD-Sun. Additionally, total alkaloid yield per plant was maximized and nearly tripled for several alkaloids when plants were cultivated under such conditions. Furthermore, rapid, non-destructive chlorophyll evaluation correlated well (r2 = 0.68) with extracted chlorophyll concentrations. Given these findings, production efforts where low-light conditions can be implemented are likely to maximize plant biomass and total leaf alkaloid production.

PMID:35472200 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0259326


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