Variation of terpene alkaloids in Daphniphyllum macropodum across plants and tissues

Kaouthar Eljounaidi, Barbara A Radzikowska, Caragh B Whitehead, Danielle J Taylor, Susana Conde, William Davis, Adam A Dowle, Swen Langer, Sally James, William P Unsworth, Daphne Ezer, Tony R Larson, Benjamin R Lichman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Daphniphyllum macropodum produces alkaloids that are structurally complex with polycyclic, stereochemically rich carbon skeletons. Understanding how these compounds are formed by the plant may enable exploration of their biological function and bioactivities. We employed multiple metabolomics techniques, including a workflow to annotate compounds in the absence of standards, to compare alkaloid content across plants and tissues. Different alkaloid structural types were found to have distinct distributions between genotypes, between tissues and within tissues. Alkaloid structural types also showed different isotope labelling enrichments that matched their biosynthetic relationships. The work suggests that mevalonate derived 30-carbon alkaloids are formed in the phloem region before their conversion to 22-carbon alkaloids which accumulate in the epidermis. This sets the stage for further investigation into the biosynthetic pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-313
Number of pages15
JournalThe New phytologist
Issue number1
Early online date17 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2024 The Authors.

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the University of York Biology Technology Facility, the Centre of Excellence in Mass Spectrometry, the Biology Horticultural Facility and the Chemistry NMR facility in conducting this research. We thank Karen Hogg and Clare Steele\u2010King in the Biology Technology Facility for imaging mass\u2010spectrometry support. We thank the Yorkshire Arboretum and Castle Howard for access to the plant material and to John Grimshaw and Jonathan Burton for support. We are grateful for Bleddyn Wynn\u2010Jones for taxonomic assignment. The work is supported through a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship awarded to BRL (MR/S01862X/1 and MR/X010260/1). BAR is supported by a BBSRC White Rose DTP studentship (BB/T007222/1). We acknowledge a University of York Research Priming award for funding SC.


  • alkaloids
  • biosynthesis
  • Daphniphyllum
  • metabolomics
  • specialised metabolism

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