Acta Physiologiae Plantarum

, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 581–593 | Cite as

Betalain production in plant in vitro systems

  • Vasil Georgiev
  • Mladenka Ilieva
  • Thomas Bley
  • Atanas Pavlov


Betalains have been widely used as natural colorants for many centuries, but their attractiveness for use as colorants of foods (or drugs and cosmetics) has increased recently due to their reportedly high anti-oxidative, free radical scavenging activities and concerns about the use of various synthetic alternatives. The main commercial sources of betalains are powders and concentrates of red beet (Beta vulgaris) or cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) extracts. However, in recent years the technical and commercial feasibility of various in vitro systems to produce them biotechnologically has been explored. These research activities have included assessments of novel approaches for cultivating plant cell or tissue cultures, and diverse bioreactor systems for increasing production levels of secondary metabolites. This paper reviews recent progress in plant in vitro systems for producing betalain pigments. In addition, the factors that could be manipulated, the bioreactor systems that could be used, and the strategies that could be applied to improve betalain production are discussed.


Betalains Biological activity Bioreactors Plant in vitro systems Process optimization 



2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid


Gamborg’s B5 medium








Low density lipoproteins


Murashige and Skoog medium


Reactive oxygen species


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Copyright information

© Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vasil Georgiev
    • 1
  • Mladenka Ilieva
    • 1
  • Thomas Bley
    • 2
  • Atanas Pavlov
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Microbial Biosynthesis and Biotechnologies, Laboratory in PlovdivThe Stephan Angeloff Institute of Microbiology, Bulgarian Academy of SciencesPlovdivBulgaria
  2. 2.Institute of Food Technology and Bioprocess EngineeringDresden University of TechnologyDresdenGermany

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