This report was written as part of an investigation into the properties of
hypericin, a phototoxin and anti-viral compound produced by Hypericum
perforatum (St. John's wort). This research is part of work that I am doing to complete a Master's Thesis on selected aspects of St. John's wort
biochemistry and ecology. I looked toward information on the natural synthesis of hypericin to get a better idea of the conditions that would affect the production and accumulation of the compound in Hypericum. I found that the published information on hypericin biosynthesis is incomplete and occasionally contradictory. To date the biosynthesis of hypericin in St John's wort has not been elucidated by biochemists though there are currently several labs where this work is pending.
A variety of literature sources were referred to in order to describe the most complete scenario of hypericin biosynthesis possible from the earliest pre-cursors to the final product. In writing this report I learned a lot about the chemistry of this fascinating compound. I made an attempt to describe the most parsimonious route to hypericin that could be justified from the literature. However, I am not a biochemist. I am student. Therefore if my conclusions seem a bit naive or if I have made some incorrect assumptions that you are aware of please be a good teacher and e-mail me.
back to the report
L2W Research - Science Writing Portfolio