This series is the exploration of plants that are notable for various reasons: e.g., by producing specialized metabolites, by illuminating evolution, by serving as genetic models, or by their contributions towards practical applications.
Papaver somniferum (opium poppy) is a plant that sometimes is misunderstood because of the ilegal activities surrounding this species. However, for thousands of years the alkaloids it produces, including morphine and codeine, have been used for pain relief. A review article by Labanca et al. (2018) focuses on the relevance of this species as a consequence of its secondary metabolites used for their analgesic properties, the process of their biosynthesis, and the research to further understand these mechanisms.
Labanca, F., Ovesnà, J. & Milella, L. Papaver somniferum L. taxonomy, uses and new insight in poppy alkaloid pathways. Phytochem Rev 17, 853–871 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11101-018-9563-3
Laura Alejandra Mejía is a biologist, MSc pharmaceutical sciences from Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and a 2019 Plantae Fellow. My main interests are plant biology, application of plant metabolites, and the creation and dissemination of science for the public. You can follow me on Instagram: @eusoulaura16.