Lignan formation in flax seeds

Seeds of Linum usitatissum (flax) are one of the richest sources of lignans, a phenylpropanoid-derived class of natural products. Lignans are potentially useful for therapeutic, neutraceutic and cosmetic applications but, on a technical scale, inaccessible by chemical synthesis. Therefore, agricultural flax cultivation and biotechnological lignan production are of special interest.

The formation of lignans in flax seeds and the optimization of agricultural lignan production is studied in the frame of a collaboration of academic institutes and industrial partners in Thuringia (Germany) and Picardy (France) (http://flax.ice.mpg.de).  

In our group, the cell-specific localization and temporal resolution of lignan formation in the shell of flax seeds is under investigation using laser microdissection and NMR spectroscopy.