The effect of gibberellic acid on the growth, metabolic products and antineoplastic alkaloids of Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don Public Deposited

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  • In view of the stimulant effects of gibberellic acid on plant growth, and its interesting modifications of various metabolic products, it was decided to determine whether this growth regulator would induce a favorable effect on total alkaloid production, especially on the antineoplastic alkaloids, of Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don (Vinca rosea L.). Two groups, of 120 plants each, consisted of a control group, and a gibberellic acid-treated group. Each of these groups was further divided into four sub-groups of 30 plants each, so that four separate harvests, each at two week intervals, could be made. The plants were distributed at random throughout the greenhouse. Gibberellic acid treatment was initiated nine weeks from the average germination date. One-tenth milliliter of a solution containing 100 micrograms of gibberellic acid was applied weekly on the upper leaves of each plant. Height measurements were made weekly commencing at the time of the first treatment. The first harvest was made five days following the initial gibber-ellic acid treatment. Three additional harvests were made at two week intervals. The leaves-tops, stems, and roots were separated and fresh weight determined. These were then placed in a circulating hot-air dryer at approximately 38° C until dry. Dry weights were then determined. The plant parts were pooled according to their respective groups, and reduced to a #40 powder. In order to determine the effect of GA-treatment on the production of the antineoplastic alkaloids, it was necessary to devise a procedure for the quantitative determination of these alkaloids. After several approaches to quantitate vincaleukoblastine (VLB), leurocristine, leurosine and leurosidine, it was possible to establish a procedure for the determination of VLB. Total alkaloid content was determined by a modification of the procedure of Szász and coworkers. Other metabolic products were also determined. The pertinent differences on growth which were noted in the gibberellin-treated group are listed below. The growth rate, based on height measurements, was significantly increased with a maximum of 61 percent at the second week of treatment. The dry weight of the stems was significantly increased with a maximum of 86 percent in the second harvest. The root dry weights were higher than controls with a maximum of 36 percent at the second harvest; however, this was not statistically significant. There were no other marked effects on fresh or dry weights. The effects of GA-treatment which were noted on the alkaloid production are presented below. The concentration of the total alkaloids was decreased in all plant parts of the three harvests that were assayed, with the exception of the leaves of the second harvest. In the leaves and roots, the concentration of the total alkaloids increased with age then leveled off after the third harvest. A reverse trend was found in the stems where the concentration decreased with age. The total alkaloid content was decreased in both leaves and roots, while it was increased in the stems. This increase was due to the significant increase in stem dry weight. With the exception of the third harvest plants, there was an overall increase in the vincaleukoblastine (VLB) concentration of the leaves with a maximum of 26 percent at the final harvest. There was no VLB detected in the other plant parts of both control and treated plants. The concentration of VLB was found to decrease with age.
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