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Catharanthus roseus: micropropagation and in vitro techniques

Pietrosiuk, Agnieszka, Furmanowa, Mirosława, Łata, Barbara
Phytochemistry reviews 2007 v.6 no.2-3 pp. 459-473
Catharanthus roseus, Rhizobium rhizogenes, artificial seeds, biochemical pathways, bioreactors, calcium alginate, callus, callus culture, cell culture, encapsulation, genetically modified organisms, hydroquinone, in vitro studies, leaves, micropropagation, plantlets, roots, secondary metabolites, serpentine, shoots, vinblastine
Different methods of in vitro culture of Catharanthus roseus provide new sources of plant material for the production of secondary metabolites such as indole alkaloids. Callus, cell suspension, plantlets, and transgenic roots cultured in the bioreactor are used in those experiments. The most promising outcomes include the production of the following indole alkaloids: ajmalicine in unorganised tissue, catharanthine in the leaf and cell culture in the shake flask and airlift bioreactor, and vinblastine in shoots and transformed roots. What is very important, enzymatic coupling of monomeric indole alkaloids, vindoline and catharanthine, is possible to form vinblastine in cell cultures. The method of catharanthine and ajmalicine production in the suspension culture in bioreactors has been successful. In this method, elicitation may be used acting on different metabolic pathways. Also of interest is the method of obtaining arbutin from the callus culture of C. roseus conducted with hydroquinone. The transformed root culture seems to be the most promising for alkaloid production. The genetically transformed roots, obtained by the infection with Agrobacterium rhizogenes, produce higher levels of secondary metabolites than intact plants. Also, whole plants can be regenerated from hairy roots. The content of indole alkaloids in the transformed roots was similar or even higher when compared to the amounts measured in studies of natural roots. The predominant alkaloids in transformed roots are ajmalicine, serpentine, vindoline and catharanthine, found in higher amounts than in untransformed roots. Transformed hairy roots have been also used for encapsulation in calcium alginate to form artificial seeds.