Enhanced biosynthesis of triterpenoids in Centella asiatica hairy root culture by precursor feeding and elicitation

  • Seungeun Baek
  • Thanh-Tam Ho
  • Hyoshin Lee
  • Gooyoung Jung
  • Young Eun Kim
  • Cheol-Seung Jeong
  • So-Young ParkEmail author
Original Article


Centella asiatica contains various triterpenoids, including madecassoside, asiaticoside, madecassic acid, and asiatic acid. Among them, they are mainly contained in leaf, and among them asiaticoside is known as tissue-specific compound that are mainly accumulated in the leaves. Therefore, in the present study, C. asiatica hairy root cultures were established from petiole and leaf explants using Agrobacterium rhizogenes-mediated transformation. To promote the biosynthesis of these triterpenoids, hairy root cultures were treated with precursors (squalene and pyruvic acid) and elicitors [methyl jasmonate (MeJA) and salicylic acid (SA)] at various concentrations. No significant difference was detected in the growth index of hairy root cultures between precursor feeding and elicitation, except pyruvic acid feeding, suggesting that elicitors do not affect the growth of hairy roots. Treatment with 2.5 mM squalene and 5 mM pyruvic acid enhanced the biosynthesis of target triterpenoids (57.53 and 29.13 mg g−1 DW, respectively) compared with other treatments. However, compared to squalene, MeJA showed a greater effect on the triterpene saponin content in C. asiatica. The highest quantity of triterpenoids (60.25 mg g−1 DW) was produced in hairy root cultures treated with 400 μM MeJA. These results indicate that precursor- and elicitor-treated C. asiatica hairy root cultures rapidly accumulate biomass and could be used to enhance the production of triterpenoids for industrial purposes.


Asiaticoside Centella asiatica Elicitation Hairy root culture Precursor feeding Triterpenoid 



This work was supported by the Korean Institute of Planning and Evaluation for Technology in Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (IPET) through the Advanced Production Technology Development Program, funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) (Grant number 315013–4).

Author contributions

SYP conceptualized and designed this study. SEB, TTH, and YEK acquired the data and wrote the manuscript. HSL, GYJ and CSJ participated in the interpretation of data and revision for important intellectual content.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Korean Society for Plant Biotechnology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Horticultural Science, Division of Animal, Horticultural and Food SciencesChungbuk National UniversityCheongjuRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Hankook Cosmetics ManufacturingSeoulRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Department of Forest Genetic ResourcesNational Institute of Forest ScienceSuwonRepublic of Korea
  4. 4.Dongkook Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.Jincheon-gunRepublic of Korea
  5. 5.WellGreen Co. Ltd.CheongjuRepublic of Korea

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