Differential effects of light and nitrogen on production of hypericins and leaf glands in Hypericum perforatum

Donald P Briskin, Margaret C. Gawienowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of light intensity and root nitrogen supply on the levels of leaf hypericins was examined for St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum L.) grown in a sand culture system with artificial lighting. Increasing the light intensity illuminating St. John's wort plants from 106 to 402 μmol·m-2·s-1 resulted in a continuous increase in the level of leaf hypericins. Using a leaf dissection approach, the association of hypericins with the dark glands on the leaves was shown, and it was found that increasing light intensity resulted in a parallel increase in the number of dark glands. In this respect, a linear relationship was observed between leaf gland number and the level of leaf hypericins (R = 0.901). While a decrease in nitrogen supply to St. John's wort plants also yielded an increase in the level of leaf hypericins, this response occurred in a discontinuous manner over the range of nitrogen levels tested and no significant effect upon the number of dark leaf glands was observed. Overall, these effects of increased light intensity and decreased nitrogen supply on leaf hypericins appear to be independent and additive, and may reflect differences in the sites and processes where these environmental parameters impact production of these phytochemicals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1075-1081
Number of pages7
JournalPlant Physiology and Biochemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2001


  • Guttiferae
  • Hypericin
  • Hypericum perforatum
  • LSD, least significant difference
  • Leaf glands
  • Medicinal plant
  • Pseudohypericin FW, fresh weight
  • Rf, chromatographic relative front

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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