The genus Fritillaria
is a botanical source for various pharmaceutically active components, which have been commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Increasing interest in Fritillaria
medicinal resources has led to additional discoveries of steroidal alkaloids, saponins, terpenoids, glycosides and many other compounds in various Fritillaria
species, and to investigations on their chemotaxonomy, molecular phylogeny and pharmacology. In continuation of studies on Fritillaria
pharmacophylogeny, the phytochemistry, chemotaxonomy, molecular biology and phylogeny of Fritillaria
and their relevance to drug efficacy is reviewed.
Literature searching is used to characterize the global scientific effort in the flexible technologies being applied. The interrelationship within Chinese Bei Mu species and between Chinese species, and species distributed outside of China, is clarified by the molecular phylogenetic inferences based on nuclear and chloroplast DNA sequences. The incongruence between chemotaxonomy and molecular phylogeny is revealed and discussed. It is essential to study more species for both the sustainable utilization of Fritillaria
medicinal resources and for finding novel compounds with potential clinical utility. Systems biology and omics technologies will play an increasingly important role in future pharmaceutical research involving the bioactive compounds of Fritillaria