The mainly Australian tribe Anthocercideae, family Solanaceae, contains a number of genera which produce the valuable and medically important tropane alkaloids hyoscyamine and scopolamine, derived from the primary metabolite putrescine, the precursor of polyamines which are essential for plant growth and vitality1. Interspecific hybrids in the genus Duboisia are farmed commercially as a source of these medicinal alkaloids in Australia and overseas. Duboisia and other Anthocercideae genera such as Cyphanthera and Anthocercis are known also to produce other metabolites derived from putrescine, including toxic undesirable pyridine alkaloids and also calystegines. In the current project we are exploring links between the molecular genetics and production of these metabolites in Duboisia and Cyphanthera species, and hybrids thereof with the aim of identifying control points for targeted precision breeding to ensure maximal rates of diversion of primary metabolites into valuable tropane alkaloid metabolism without concomitant production of non-valuable metabolites or negative effects upon plant health.
References: 1. Ryan SM, DeBoer KD, Hamill JD (2015) Functional Plant Biology, 42, 792–801.