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Research

Yellow Gold: Innovative systems for sustainable daffodil derived Galanthamine production in the uplands

Abstract

The number of people suffering from dementia is considerable and growing at a significant rate. Alzheimer’s Disease accounts for between 50 and 75% of these cases. Galantamine is a pharmaceutical compound that has been an approved treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease since 1998. Galantamine can be synthesised chemically but it is a difficult and expensive process. Producing galantamine from the alkaloid galanthamine extracted from daffodils is more cost effective, but supplies are limited. Research has suggested that the environmental challenges associated with upland areas trigger a higher yield of galanthamine in daffodils compared to daffodils grown under lowland conditions. A 4.5 year UK Agri-Tech Catalyst Industrial Research project is investigating daffodil-derived galanthamine production by integrating daffodil growing into permanent upland sheep pasture. The aim is to increase the economic sustainability of hill farming by providing farmers with a high value supplementary daffodil crop while maintaining a traditional farming system. Machinery is readily available for lowland daffodil production for the cut flower market and for the production of bulbs. Soils are typically deep, fertile and free draining. However, the UK uplands are characterised by low temperatures; exposure to wind; high rainfall; winter snow and frosts; thin impoverished stony soils; a shortage of major nutrients and steep slopes. As part of the research project Harper Adams University agricultural engineers have developed machines for planting daffodil bulbs and harvesting the above ground daffodil biomass in these arduous upland grassland pastures. The planter uses belts to meter and deliver bulbs from the storage hopper to two drop chutes positioned above the purpose built ground opening winged tines spaced so as to produce rows 850 mm apart. The harvester flails, removes and collects the above ground biomass which is then transferred to sealed containers before being processed.

Description

Please see Abstract.

Funding Body

BBSRC and Innovate UK

Lead Organisation

Agroceutical Products Ltd

Partners

Agroceutical Products Ltd and Aberystwyth University

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