Hairy root type plant in vitro systems as sources of bioactive substances

  • Milen I. GeorgievEmail author
  • Atanas I. Pavlov
  • Thomas Bley


“Hairy root” systems, obtained by transforming plant tissues with the “natural genetic engineer” Agrobacterium rhizogenes, have been known for more than three decades. To date, hairy root cultures have been obtained from more than 100 plant species, including several endangered medicinal plants, affording opportunities to produce important phytochemicals and proteins in eco-friendly conditions. Diverse strategies can be applied to improve the yields of desired metabolites and to produce recombinant proteins. Furthermore, recent advances in bioreactor design and construction allow hairy root-based technologies to be scaled up while maintaining their biosynthetic potential. This review highlights recent progress in the field and outlines future prospects for exploiting the potential utility of hairy root cultures as “chemical factories” for producing bioactive substances.


Agrobacterium rhizogenes Hairy roots Secondary metabolites Bioreactors 



We thank V. Georgiev, M.Sc., for preparing the figures. This work has been supported by a Marie Curie Fellowship of the European Community program “Development Host Fellowships” under contract number HPMD-CT-2001-00092 and Marie Curie European Reintegration Grant under contract number MERG-CT-2005-021344.


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© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Milen I. Georgiev
    • 1
    Email author
  • Atanas I. Pavlov
    • 2
  • Thomas Bley
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Food Technology and Bioprocess EngineeringDresden University of TechnologyDresdenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Microbial Biosynthesis and Biotechnologies—Laboratory in Plovdiv, Institute of MicrobiologyBulgarian Academy of SciencesPlovdivBulgaria

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