Studying morphine biosynthesis using transgenic opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L.)

S. Frick, R. Kramell, T. M. Kutchan, P. J. Larkin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L.) produces a large variety of isoquinoline alkaloids. The aim of this investigation is to understand the regulation of biosynthesis and the ecological function of the alkaloids in the plant. Agrobacterium-mediated transformations of opium poppy were used to introduce the berberine bridge enzyme cDNA bbe 1 in the antisense orientation into seedling explants. After induction of callus on an appropriate medium, embryos were developed via somatic embryogenesis. After the embryos were developed into plantlets with leaves and roots they were transferred to soil. In this way, forty-nine phenotypically normal T0 plants were produced. Forty-six plants produced viable seeds and were used to produce T1 plants. These plants were then analyzed for the presence of the bbe 1 transgene and for the content of alkaloid in latex and root. Selected plants showed a differential alkaloid pattern in latex compared to the wild type. In this paper, the results of a plant with an altered alkaloid profile, heritable at least to the T2 generation, is presented. This represents the first example of metabolic engineering of the alkaloid pathways in opium poppy.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIII WOCMAP Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants - Volume 6
Subtitle of host publicationTraditional edicine and Nutraceuticals
PublisherInternational Society for Horticultural Science
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9789066055780
StatePublished - 2005

Publication series

NameActa Horticulturae
ISSN (Print)0567-7572


  • Agrobacterium tumefaciens
  • Benzylisoquinoline alkaloids
  • Berberine bridge enzyme
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Somatic embryogenesis
  • Transformation


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