Journal of
Medicinal Plants Research

  • Abbreviation: J. Med. Plants Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0875
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMPR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 3621

Full Length Research Paper

Ergothioneine accumulation in a medicinal plant Gastrodia elata

Eung-Jun Park*, Wi Young Lee, Seung Taek Kim, Jin Kwon Ahn and Eun Kyung Bae
Division of Forest Biotechnology, Korea Forest Research Institute, Suwon 441-847, Republic of Korea.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 02 June 2010
  •  Published: 18 June 2010


Ergothioneine (ERG) has long been recognized as a potent and stable antioxidant. In nature, ERG is synthesized only in fungi and mycobacteria, not in plants. The lifecycle of Gastrodia elata, an achlorophyllous orchid plant, is completely dependent on the presence of symbiotic fungi, particularly Armillaria mellea. In this study, we report for the first time that G. elata accumulated ERG whose levels were correlated with the concentrations of ERG in A. mellea. The contents of ERG in G. elata were significantly higher in actively developing tissues, such as seed capsules and newly growing corms, than in mature rhizomes. The ERG levels in rhizomes were significantly correlated with antioxidant capacities and were quantitatively comparable to the previously established major pharmacological components in G. elata. These results indicated that ERG is a newly found functional substance in G. elata, which may be responsible for the beneficial health effects of G. elata on various human diseases.


Key words: Gastrodia elata, Armillaria mellea, ergothioneine, antioxidant.

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