Echinacea angustifolia cell suspension culturesare usually grown and maintained in the dark, but we alsoexposed cells to light for one culture cycle (14 days) andthen compared the metabolomes of dark-grown and illu-minated cells by liquid chromatography–mass spectrome-try. Among 256 signals, we putatively identified 159molecules corresponding to 56 different metabolites plustheir fragments, adducts and isotopologs. The E. angustifoliametabolome consisted mainly of caffeic acid deriva-tives, comprising (a) caffeic acid conjugated with tartaric,quinic and hexaric acids; and (b) caffeic acid conjugatedwith hydroxytyrosol glycosides (e.g., echinacoside, ver-bascoside and related molecules). Many of these metabo-lites have not been previously described in E. angustifolia,which currently lacks detailed metabolic profiles. Exposureto light significantly increased the levels of certain caffeicacid derivatives (particularly caffeoylquinic acids andhydroxytyrosol derivatives lacking rhamnose residues) andreduced the level of hydroxytyrosol derivatives withrhamnose residues, revealing that light specifically inhibitsthe rhamnosylation of caffeoyl phenylethanoid glycosides.These results are significant because they suggest that the metabolic profile of cell cultures can be manipulated bycontrolling simple environmental variables such as illu-mination to modulate the levels of potentially therapeuticcompounds.
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