Thapsia garganica L.: In Vitro Culture, Somatic Embryogenesis, and the Production of Thapsigargins

  • U. W. Smitt
  • A. K. Jäger
  • U. Nyman
Part of the Biotechnology in Agriculture and Forestry book series (AGRICULTURE, volume 37)


Thapsia garganica L., Apiaceae (Fig. 1), called Dérias by the Arabs, is an ancient medicinal plant that contains thapsigargins as the active constituents. Thapsigargins are highly oxygenated sesquiterpene lactones with three or four ester groups, a specific stereochemistry, with a cis-annulated lactone ring and possessing unique biological activities. The first known thapsigargin was trilobolid III isolated from Laser trilobum (L.) Borkh. (Holub et al. 1973). However, the biological activities were not recognized until the isolation of thapsigargin I and thapsigargicin II from T. garganica (Rasmussen et al. 1978; Christensen et al. 1982), a perennial herb growing on stony, sandy fields, and along roadsides in the Mediterranean area. The resin from roots of T. garganica has been known since ancient times to cause a vigorous contact dermatitis and has been used in folk medicine until recently, especially by the Arabs of northern Africa. Radix Thapsiae and Resina Thapsiae have been recorded in several pharmacopoeias, most recently in the 1937 edition of the French Pharmacopoeia. The resin has been reported to be used against pulmonary diseases, catarrhs, and in the form of a medicinal plaster in the treatment of rheumatic pains (Perrot 1943).


Somatic Embryogenesis Suspension Culture Callus Culture Cotyledonary Stage Embryo Genesis 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • U. W. Smitt
  • A. K. Jäger
    • 2
  • U. Nyman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacognosyRoyal Danish School of PharmacyCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Department of BotanyUniversity of NatalPietermaritzburgRepublic of South Africa

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