Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Pamela J. Weathers, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Ronald D. Cheetham, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Joseph C. Bagshaw, Committee Member




In most plant species artificial polyploidy generally enhances the vigor of determinate plant parts and may be favorable where vegetative organs and biomass constitute the economic product. Furthermore, artificial polyploidy has been considered a method of increasing production potential of plants secondary metabolites. However, despite considerable research on polyploid plants, very few cases of polyploid medicinal plants have been reported. Artemisia annua L. synthesizes artemisinin, an antimalarial sesquiterpene lactone. Artemisinin can be synthesized, but it is costly compared to the naturally derived product. Hairy root cultures of Artemisia annua L. (clone YUT16) show rapid growth and produce artemisinin. This culture offers a good model system for studying artemisinin production. Others have shown that tetraploid Artemisia annua L. plants produce more artemisinin/mg DW than diploids. These yields were offset, however, by decreases in biomass productivity. Little is known about how polyploidy may affect growth production of hairy roots. Using colchicine, we have produced four stable tetraploid clones of Artemisia annua L. from YUT16 hairy root clone. Compared to the diploid clone, these tetraploid clones showed major differences in growth and development. Nevertheless, artemisinin yields of these tetraploid clones were 2-5 times higher than the diploid and their production seemed to be by the age of the inoculum. This work will prove useful in furthering our understanding of the effects of artificial polyploidy on the growth and secondary metabolite production of hairy roots.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Biology & Biotechnology

Project Type


Date Accepted





secondary metabolites, hairy roots, tetraploid, artemisinin, Artemesia, Polyploidy, Malaria, Treatment, Artemisinin