Skip navigation

Enhancement of artemisinin concentration and yield in response to optimization of nitrogen and potassium supply to Artemisia annua

Enhancement of artemisinin concentration and yield in response to optimization of nitrogen and potassium supply to Artemisia annua

Davies, Michael J., Atkinson, Christopher J., Burns, Corrinne, Woolley, Jack G., Hipps, Neil A., Arroo, Randolph R.J., Dungey, Nigel, Robinson, Trevor, Brown, Paul, Flockart, Ian, Hill, Colin, Smith, Lydia and Bentley, Steven (2009) Enhancement of artemisinin concentration and yield in response to optimization of nitrogen and potassium supply to Artemisia annua. Annals of Botany, 104 (2). pp. 315-323. ISSN 0305-7364 (Print), 1095-8290 (Online) (doi:

Full text not available from this repository.


Background and Aims: The resurgence of malaria, particularly in the developing world, is considerable and exacerbated by the development of single-gene multi-drug resistances to chemicals such as chloroquinone. Drug therapies, as recommended by the World Health Organization, now include the use of antimalarial compounds derived from Artemisia annua – in particular, the use of artemisinin-based ingredients. Despite our limited knowledge of its mode of action or biosynthesis there is a need to secure a supply and enhance yields of artemisinin. The present study aims to determine how plant biomass can be enhanced while maximizing artemisinin concentration by understanding the plant’s nutritional requirements for nitrogen and potassium.
Methods: Experiments were carried out, the first with differing concentrations of nitrogen, at 6, 31, 56, 106, 206 or 306 mg L21 being applied, while the other differing in potassium concentration (51, 153 or 301 mg L21). Nutrients were supplied in irrigation water to plants in pots and after a growth period biomass production and leaf artemisinin concentration were measured. These data were used to determine optimal nutrient requirements for artemisinin yield.
Key Results: Nitrogen nutrition enhanced plant nitrogen concentration and biomass production successively up to 106 mg N L21 for biomass and 206 mg N L21 for leaf nitrogen; further increases in nitrogen had no influence. Artemisinin concentration in dried leaf material, measured by HPLC mass spectroscopy, was maximal at a nitrogen application of 106 mg L21, but declined at higher concentrations. Increasing potassium application from 51 to 153 mg L21 increased total plant biomass, but not at higher applications. Potassium application enhanced leaf potassium concentration, but there was no effect on leaf artemisinin concentration or leaf artemisinin yield.
Conclusions: Artemisinin concentration declined beyond an optimal point with increasing plant nitrogen concentration.
Maximization of artemisinin yield (amount per plant) requires optimization of plant biomass via control of nitrogen nutrition.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: [1] Acknowledgement (funding): This project was sponsored by Defra through the Renewable Materials LINK Programme (LK0822, ‘Developing an alternative UK industrial crop Artemisia annua, for the extraction of Artemisinin to treat multi-drug resistant malaria’) with financial input from the Horticultural Development Company (HDC). [2] Copyright: © The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Annals of Botany Company. All rights reserved. [3] Annals of Botany is published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Artemisia, fertigation, malaria, nitrogen, nutrition, potassium
Subjects: Q Science > QK Botany
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2015 16:04
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item