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Background: Dragon′s blood is a well-known traditional Chinese medicine, isolated mainly from the trunks of Dracaena trees. Overexploitation of the Dracaena resource has resulted in this plant becoming endangered, although it is not clear whether other organs, such as leaves and roots, synthesize and accumulate the phytochemicals which are found in dragon′s blood. This work aimed to assess the potential to use various tissues of the Dracaena cochinchinensis tree to produce dragon′s blood.
Results: We found that many dragon′s blood components accumulated in the bark of trunk and roots of D. cochinchinensis under natural conditions. High-performance liquid chromatography analysis showed that high concentrations of the flavonoid loureirin A were detected in the bark of trunk and roots, at much higher concentrations than those of loureirin B. In addition, small amounts of loureirin A were detected in leaves, suggesting that the leaves could be a potential source of dragon′s blood. Real-time quantitative PCR analysis showed that most of the genes tested in this study, which encoded enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of dragon′s blood flavonoids, were highly expressed in the bark of roots and trunk.
Conclusion: We confirmed that the bark of roots and trunk of D. cochinchinensis tree were the main tissues for the synthesis and storage of dragon′s blood under natural conditions. This study demonstrated the potential to extract dragon′s blood from the roots without destroying the tree, a process which would be beneficial to the protection of the endangered wild D. cochinchinensis tree populations.
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