Implementation of NPBT in chicory for bioactive terpenes

CHIC photo 83


Root chicory is grown for inulin, but it also produces a number of compounds in its latex. These compounds belong to the class of terpenes and the most abundant of these are sesquiterpene lactones (STLs), which have a potential as antimicrobial and anticancer bioactives. However these compounds may interfere with the extraction of inulin. Therefore in CHIC we have the following twofold objectives:

  1. To understand how these terpenes accumulate in the latex, how laticifers (the specialized cells that accumulate latex) develop and characterize the bioactivity of compounds that are present in the latex. With this knowledge at hand, chicory could be developed as a biofactory for the production of valuable sesquiterpene lactones. To reduce the impact of latex in the extraction of inulin, we aim to decrease the number of laticifer cells in the tap root.
  2. Our data shows that the early steps of STLs biosynthesis take place outside of the laticifer cells and STLs accumulate inside of laticifers by transportation mediated process. Based on this information, candidate genes for the development of laticifers and biosynthesis of STLs have been selected. Preliminary bioactivity assays indicate the presence of anti-biofilm activities.

Furthermore, candidate genes involved in the accumulation of costunolide and parthenolide have been identified to generate modified plants with higher amount of parthenolide, an anticancer compound.


About CHIC Project

CHIC is the Chicory Innovation Consortium. Its objective is to implement New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs) in chicory in order to establish it as a multipurpose crop for the production of health-related products with clear benefits for consumers and to develop co-innovation pathways with stakeholders for game-changing technologies, such as NPBTs. CHIC will develop four different NPBTs. They will be used to steer bioprocesses in chicory and mobilize its under-explored potential to produce immunomodulatory prebiotics and medicinal terpenes. The conceptually different NPBTs will be assessed with respect to technological potential, risks, regulatory framework, and their socio-economic impacts. This will be done in close consultation with a Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) composed of relevant stakeholders in industry and society. For more information, visit our website at chicproject.eu/