, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 287-295
Date: 30 Apr 2010

In vitro seed germination and cultivation of the aromatic medicinal Salvia stenophylla (Burch. ex Benth.) provides an alternative source of α-bisabolol

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The aromatic medicinal plant Salvia stenophylla contains α-bisabolol, making this plant an important contributor to the aromatherapy and cosmetic industries in South Africa. Due to its commercial importance, the cultivation of this plant using an in vitro system was considered. Firstly, seedlings were raised in vitro after breaking dormancy with light, smoke-water or chemical scarification treatments. Germination improved when seeds were smoke-treated or soaked in 70% (v/v) H2SO4. Vigorous plantlet regeneration was achieved when seedling explants were cultured on Murashige and Skoog (1962) medium with 5.7 μM IAA and 8.9 μM BA. The potential regeneration capacity for this protocol was estimated and over 1,000 plantlets can be produced from a single shoot (6.67 cm with 4–6 nodes) over a period of 3 months. Plants rooted easily regardless of their growth medium. This was followed by their successful rapid establishment and normal growth out of culture (75%). Finally, the volatile compounds in in vitro plants were compared to ex vitro plants via headspace solid phase microextraction linked to gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. The chemical complexity of microplants was similar to wild plants with in vitro plants continuing to produce α-bisabolol (21%) at high levels.