Date: 02 Jul 2008

Production of Secondary Metabolites Using Plant Cell Cultures

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Abstract

Plant cell cultures represent a potential source of valuable secondary metabolites which can be used as food additives, nutraceuticals, and pharmaceuticals. The synthesis of phytochemicals by the cell cultures in contrast to these in plants is independent of environmental conditions and quality fluctuations. In many cases, the chemical synthesis of metabolites is not possible or economically feasible. Moreover, the natural food additives are better accepted by consumers in contrast to those which are artificially produced.

In this chapter, the process for obtaining the secondary metabolites from plant cell cultures is represented as a multi-stage strategy, and each link should be described according to specifications of cell cultures or products. For the establishing of high-producing and fast-growing cell lines, the parent plants should be selected. The expression of synthetic pathways can be influenced by environmental conditions, the supply of precursors, and the application of elicitors, and it can be altered by special treatments such as biotransformation and immobilization. The efficiency of bioprocessing can be increased by the simplification of methods for product recovery, based on the principle of continuous product release into the cultivation media. This can be induced through influencing membrane permeability by chemical or physical factors, e.g., high electric field pulses.

The combined research in the fields of establishment of in vitro cultures, targeting of metabolite synthesis, and development of technologies for product recovery can exploit the potential of plant cells as sources of secondary metabolites.