Effects of abiotic elicitors on the production of bioactive flavonols in Emilia sonchifolia

  • Mohan Raji Natural Sciences and Science Education, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
  • Zhong Chen Natural Sciences and Science Education, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Keywords: Emilia sonchifolia, Flavonol, Rutin, Quercetin, Kaempferol


The usage of plants as a source of medicine begins with the isolation of active bio-compounds which are responsible for their therapeutic action. Research in flavonols has flourished in the last decades, fueled by the recognized importance of natural antioxidants on health benefits. The current research focused on a novel elicitation approach to improve the therapeutic value of medicinal plants. It attempted to investigate if heat (one-day for 6 hrs, 45 °C) and drought stress (one week) could be used to enhance the production of three flavonols such as rutin, quercetin, and kaempferol in tropical medicinal plant Emilia sonchifolia. The increment in the antioxidant levels of E. sonchifolia plant was attributed to the increased accumulation of three flavonols and total flavonoid content with strong scavenging ability against free radicals. The short-term heat stress and moderate water deficit proved as effective strategies to increase the rutin, quercetin and kaempferol contents in E. sonchifolia.


Download data is not yet available.


Davies KM, Deroles SC. Prospects for the use of plant cell cultures in food biotechnology. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2014;26:133-40.

Sathuluri RR, Gokare R. Vanilla flavour: production by conventional and biotechnological routes. J. Sci. Food Agric. 2000;80:289-304.

Wink M. Modes of action of herbal medicines and plant secondary metabolites. Medicines (Basel, Switzerland). 2015;2(3):251-86.

Lee LK, Foo KY. Recent advances on the beneficial use and health implications of Pu-Erh tea. Food Research International. 2013;53(2):619-28.

Frederick Hill A. Economic botany: a textbook of useful plants and plant products. Science. 1939;89(2309):294.

Nguyen NH, Kim JH, Kwon J, Jeong CY, Lee W, Lee D, et al. Characterization of Arabidopsis thaliana FLAVONOL SYNTHASE 1 (FLS1) -overexpression plants in response to abiotic stress. Plant Physiol Biochem. 2016;103:133-42.

Sultana B, Anwar F. Flavonols (kaempeferol, quercetin, myricetin) contents of selected fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants. Food Chem. 2008;108(3):879-84.

Perez-Vizcaino F, Fraga CG. Research trends in flavonoids and health. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2018;646:107-12.

Javed H, Khan MM, Ahmad A, Vaibhav K, Ahmad ME, Khan A, et al. Rutin prevents cognitive impairments by ameliorating oxidative stress and neuroinflammation in rat model of sporadic dementia of Alzheimer type. Neuroscience. 2012;210:340-52.

Li, Yao J, Han C, Yang J, Chaudhry MT, Wang S, et al. Quercetin, inflammation and immunity. Nutrients. 2016;8(3):167.

Anand David AV, Arulmoli R, Parasuraman S. Overviews of biological importance of quercetin: a bioactive flavonoid. Pharmacogn Rev. 2016;10(20):84-9.

Kim JK, Park SU. Quercetin and its role in biological functions: an updated review. EXCLI J. 2018;17:856-63.

Choi JH, Park SE, Kim SJ, Kim S. Kaempferol inhibits thrombosis and platelet activation. Biochimie. 2015;115:177-86.

Winkel-Shirley B. Biosynthesis of flavonoids and effects of stress. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2002;5(3):218-23.

Saito K, Yonekura-Sakakibara K, Nakabayashi R, Higashi Y, Yamazaki M, Tohge T, et al. The flavonoid biosynthetic pathway in Arabidopsis: structural and genetic diversity. Plant Physiol Biochem. 2013;72:21-34.

Oksman-Caldentey, Kirsi-Marja, Inzé D. Plant cell factories in the post-genomic era: new ways to produce designer secondary metabolites. Trends Plant Sci. 2004;9(9):433-40.

Yang L, Wen K-S, Ruan X, Zhao Y-X, Wei F, Wang Q. Response of plant secondary metabolites to environmental factors. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2018;23(4):762.

Gorelick J, Bernstein N. Chapter Five - Elicitation: an underutilized tool in the development of medicinal plants as a source of therapeutic secondary metabolites. In: Sparks DL, editor. Advances in Agronomy. 124: Academic Press; 2014. p. 201-30.

Ramakrishna A, Ravishankar GA. Influence of abiotic stress signals on secondary metabolites in plants. Plant Signal Behav. 2011;6(11):1720-31.

Shen SM, Shen LG, Lei QF, Si JY, Liu CM, Lu H. Chemical constituents contained in aerial parts of Emilia sonchifolia. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2012;37(21):3249-51.

Dash G, Syafiq Abdullah M, Yahaya R. Traditional uses, phytochemical and pharmacological aspects of Emilia sonchifolia (L.) Int J Res Ayurveda Pharm. 2015;6(4):551-556.

Arun Raj G, Shailaja U, Rao PN, Sharanesh T, Gokul J. Review on the contribution of Dashapushpa: a traditional medicine in the management of cancer. Global J Res Med Plants & Indigen Med. 2013;2(9):656-63.

Muko KN, Ohiri FC. A preliminary study on the anti-inflammatory properties of Emilia sonchifolia leaf extracts. Fitoterapia. 2000;71(1):65-8.

Lija Y, Biju PG, Reeni A, Cibin TR, Sahasranamam V, Abraham A. Modulation of selenite cataract by the flavonoid fraction of Emilia sonchifolia in experimental animal models. Phytother Res. 2006;20(12):1091-5.

Sophia D, Ragavendran P, Arulraj C, Gopalakrishnan VK. In vitro antioxidant activity and HPTLC determination of n-hexane extract of Emilia sonchifolia (L.)DC. J Basic Clin Pharm. 2011;2(4):179-83.

Mamta R. Natural antioxidant (flavone glycoside) from Emilia sonchifolia DC. and its potential activity. Int J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2012;4:159-162.

Maikaeo L, Chotigeat W. Emilia sonchifolia extract activity against white spot syndrome virus and yellow head virus in shrimp cell cultures. Dis Aquat Organ. 2015;115(2):157-64.

Nasrollahi V, Mirzaie-asl A, Piri K, Nazeri S, Mehrabi R. The effect of drought stress on the expression of key genes involved in the biosynthesis of triterpenoid saponins in liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra). Phytochemistry. 2014;103:32-7.

Daudi A, O'Brien JA. Detection of hydrogen peroxide by DAB staining in arabidopsis leaves. Bio Protoc. 2012;2(18):e263.

Neves NdA, Stringheta PC, Gómez-Alonso S, Hermosín-Gutiérrez I. Flavonols and ellagic acid derivatives in peels of different species of jabuticaba (Plinia spp.) identified by HPLC-DAD-ESI/MSn. Food Chem. 2018;252:61-71.

Pękal A, Pyrzynska K. Evaluation of aluminium complexation reaction for flavonoid content assay. Food Anal Methods. 2014;7(9):1776-82.

Zhang, Cao Z, Xie Z, Lang D, Zhou L, Chu Y, et al. Effect of water stress on roots biomass and secondary metabolites in the medicinal plant Stellaria dichotoma L. var. lanceolata Bge. Sci Hortic. 2017;224:280-5.

Gai Q-Y, Jiao J, Luo M, Wei Z-F, Zu Y-G, Ma W, et al. Establishment of hairy root cultures by agrobacterium rhizogenes mediated transformation of Isatis Tinctoria L. for the efficient production of flavonoids and evaluation of antioxidant activities. PLoS One. 2015;10(3):e0119022.

Matteini P, Agati G, Pinelli P, Goti A. Modes of complexation of rutin with the flavonoid reagent diphenylborinic acid 2-aminoethyl ester. Monatsh Chem. 2011;142:885.

Cen M, Ruan J, Huang L, Zhang Z, Yu N, Zhang Y, et al. Simultaneous determination of thirteen flavonoids from Xiaobuxin-Tang extract using high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2015;115:214-24.

Li Z, Guo H, Xu WB, Ge J, Li X, Alimu M, et al. Rapid identification of flavonoid constituents directly from PTP1B inhibitive extract of raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) leaves by HPLC-ESI-QTOF-MS-MS. J Chromatogr Sci. 2016;54(5):805-10.

Chen G, Li X, Saleri F, Guo M. Analysis of flavonoids in Rhamnus davurica and its antiproliferative activities. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2016;21(10).

Kirakosyan A, Kaufman P, Warber S, Zick S, Aaronson K, Bolling S, et al. Applied environmental stresses to enhance the levels of polyphenolics in leaves of hawthorn plants. Physiol Plant. 2004;121(2):182-6.

Hodaei M, Rahimmalek M, Arzani A, Talebi M. The effect of water stress on phytochemical accumulation, bioactive compounds and expression of key genes involved in flavonoid biosynthesis in Chrysanthemum morifolium L. Ind Crops Prod. 2018;120:295-304.

Xiaolu W, Jie Y, Aoxue L, Yu C, Yijun F. Drought stress and re-watering increase secondary metabolites and enzyme activity in dendrobium moniliforme. Ind Crops Prod. 2016;94:385-93.

Barton KE, Koricheva J. The ontogeny of plant defense and herbivory: characterizing general patterns using meta-analysis. Am Nat. 2010;175(4):481-93.

Agati G, Azzarello E, Pollastri S, Tattini M. Flavonoids as antioxidants in plants: location and functional significance. Plant Sci. 2012;196:67-76.

Nacif de Abreu I, Mazzafera P. Effect of water and temperature stress on the content of active constituents of Hypericum brasiliense Choisy. Plant Physiol Biochem. 2005;43(3):241-8.

Le Roy J, Huss B, Creach A, Hawkins S, Neutelings G. Glycosylation is a major regulator of phenylpropanoid availability and biological activity in plants. Front Plant Sci. 2016;7(735).

Hectors K, Van Oevelen S, Geuns J, Guisez Y, Jansen MA, Prinsen E. Dynamic changes in plant secondary metabolites during UV acclimation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Physiol Plant. 2014;152(2):219-30.

Selmar D, Kleinwächter M. Influencing the product quality by deliberately applying drought stress during the cultivation of medicinal plants. Ind Crops Prod.2013;42:558-66.

Nakabayashi R, Yonekura-Sakakibara K, Urano K, Suzuki M, Yamada Y, Nishizawa T, et al. Enhancement of oxidative and drought tolerance in Arabidopsis by overaccumulation of antioxidant flavonoids. Plant J. 2014;77(3):367-79.

Fini A, Guidi L, Ferrini F, Brunetti C, Di Ferdinando M, Biricolti S, et al. Drought stress has contrasting effects on antioxidant enzymes activity and phenylpropanoid biosynthesis in Fraxinus ornus leaves: an excess light stress affair? J Plant Physiol. 2012;169(10):929-39.

Zhu J-J, Li Y-R, Liao J-X. Involvement of anthocyanins in the resistance to chilling-induced oxidative stress in Saccharum officinarum L. leaves. Plant Physiol Biochem. 2013;73:427-33.

Guo T, He B, Huang H, Xi W, Chen X. Physiological responses of Scaevola aemula seedlings under high temperature stress. S Afr J Bot. 2017;112:203-9.

Nowak M, Kleinwächter M, Manderscheid R, Weigel HJ, Selmar D. Drought stress increases the accumulation of monoterpenes in sage (Salvia officinalis), an effect that is compensated by elevated carbon dioxide concentration. J Appl Bot Food Qual. 2010;83(2):133-6.

Devi D G, Y L, Raghavan C, Biju P, Devi V, Annie A. Evaluation of the protective effects of Emilia sonchifolia Linn. (DC.) on perchlorate-induced oxidative damage. J Biol Sci. 2006;6.

Raghavan C, Gopala S, Devi D G, Srinivas P, Y L, Annie A. Antioxidant and antiproliferative effects of flavonoids from Emilia sonchifolia Linn on human cancer cells. International Journal of Pharmacology. 2006;2.

Lija Y, Biju P, Reeni A, Raghavan C, Sahasranamam V, Abraham A. Modulation of selenite cataract by the flavonoid fraction of Emilia sonchifolia in experimental animal models. Phytother Res. 2006;20:1091-5.

Maikaeo L, Chotigeat W, Mahabusarakam W. Emilia sonchifolia extract activity against white spot syndrome virus and yellow head virus in shrimp cell cultures. Dis Aquat Organ. 2015;115(2):157-64.

How to Cite
Raji, M., & Chen, Z. (2020). Effects of abiotic elicitors on the production of bioactive flavonols in Emilia sonchifolia. STEMedicine, 1(2), e33. https://doi.org/10.37175/stemedicine.v1i2.33
Research articles