Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 87, Issue 1, pp 137–144

Effects of biotic and abiotic elicitors on cell growth and tanshinone accumulation in Salvia miltiorrhiza cell cultures

Biotechnological Products and Process Engineering


This study examined the effects of biotic and abiotic elicitors on the production of diterpenoid tanshinones in Salvia miltiorrhiza cell culture. Four classes of elicitors were tested, heavy metal ions (Co2+, Ag+, Cd2+), polysaccharides (yeast extract and chitosan), plant response-signaling compounds (salicylic acid and methyl jasmonate), and hyperosmotic stress (with sorbitol). Of these, Ag (silver nitrate), Cd (cadmium chloride), and polysaccharide from yeast extract (YE) were most effective to stimulate the tanshinone production, increasing the total tanshinone content of cell by more than ten-fold (2.3 mg g-1 versus 0.2 mg g-1 in control). The stimulating effect was concentration-dependent, most significant at 25 μM of Ag and Cd and 100 mg l-1 (carbohydrate content) of YE. Of the three tanshinones detected, cryptotanshinone was stimulated most dramatically by about 30-fold and tanshinones I and IIA by no more than 5-fold. Meanwhile, most of the elicitors suppressed cell growth, decreasing the biomass yield by about 50% (5.1–5.5 g l-1 versus 8.9 g l-1 in control). The elicitors also stimulated the phenylalanine ammonia lyase activity of cells and transient increases in the medium pH and conductivity. The results suggest that the elicitor-stimulated tanshinone accumulation was a stress response of the cells.


Salvia miltiorrhiza Cell culture Tanshinones Elicitors Stress response 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant PathologyChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Applied Biology and Chemical TechnologyThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityKowloonHong Kong

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