Industrial Production of Ergot Alkaloids

The overall word annual production of ergot alkaloids was estimated at about 20,000 kg (Cvak 1999) in which the production of ergopeptines and their dihydroderivatives forms less then one third. The rest of the production is

Figure 4 General structure of ergopeptines.

concentrated on production of lysergic acid and other precursors of semisynthetic ergot preparations (lysergol, elymoclavine, ergine, and other simple derivatives of lysergic acid). In the last decade the production of ergopeptines (Table 1) remained confined due to their limited therapeutic use while the production of semisynthetic ergot preparations is gaining importance due to the development of new drugs with new and more specific therapeutical applications (Berde and Sturmer 1978; Eich and Pertz 1999; Pertz and Eich 1999). It is evident from the data (Table 1) that lysergic acid is the main precursor of semisynthetic ergot preparations, which can be obtained by chemical decomposition of ergopeptines or simple derivatives of lysergic acid. So far, very limited amount of ergot preparations have been synthesized from clavine alkaloids. Field production of ergot alkaloids is still an important source of ergopeptines. In the last decades, the major effort was devoted to selection of strains producing defined spectrum of alkaloids. Recently, the average yield of ergot reached the level of 1000 kg/ha with content of alkaloids above 1% (Cvak 1999).

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