Elicitation of Isatis tinctoria L. hairy root cultures by salicylic acid and methyl jasmonate for the enhanced production of pharmacologically active alkaloids and flavonoids

  • Qing-Yan Gai
  • Jiao JiaoEmail author
  • Xin Wang
  • Yu-Ping Zang
  • Li-Li Niu
  • Yu-Jie FuEmail author
Original Article


Plant cell and organ cultures via the implementation of effective elicitation strategies can offer attractive biotechnological platforms for the enhanced production of phytochemicals of pharmaceutical interest. For the first time, the elicitation of exogenous signal molecules was conducted to enhance the production of pharmacologically active alkaloids and flavonoids in Isatis tinctoria L. hairy root cultures (ITHRCs). ITHRCs III and V correspondingly possessing high alkaloid and flavonoid productivity were adopted for elicitation treatments. The maximum accumulation of alkaloids in ITHRCs III elicited by 142.61 µM salicylic acid for 28.18 h and flavonoids in ITHRCs V elicited by 179.54 µM methyl jasmonate for 41.87 h increased 5.89- and 11.21-folds as compared with controls, respectively. Moreover, expressions of 11 genes involved in alkaloid and flavonoid biosynthetic pathways were significantly up-regulated following elicitation, among which YUCCA, CHI and F3′H genes might play a crucial role in the target phytochemical augmentation. Overall, two effective elicitation protocols were provided here to improve the yields of bioactive alkaloids and flavonoids in ITHRCs, which was useful for the scale-up production of these valuable compounds to meet the demands for natural bioactive ingredients by pharmaceutical industries.


Elicitation Isatis tinctoria L. Hairy root cultures Bioactive phytochemicals Yield enhancement 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial supports by National Natural Science Foundation of China for Youths (31800492), Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2572018BU02 and 2572017DA04), Heilongjiang Province Science Foundation for Youths (QC2017012), National Key R&D Program of China (2017YFD0600205), Scientific Research Start-up Funds for Talents Introduction of Northeast Forestry University (YQ2017-03), and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2572017AA08).

Author Contributions

QYG, JJ and YJF conceived and designed the experiments. QYG, JJ, and XW performed the experiments. GQY and JJ analyzed the data. GQY, XW, YPZ, and LLN contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools. All the authors contributed to writing and editing of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11240_2018_1553_MOESM1_ESM.doc (97 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 97 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Forest Plant Ecology, Ministry of EducationNortheast Forestry UniversityHarbinPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Tree Breeding by Molecular DesignBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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