Onosma paniculatum: In Vitro Culture and the Production of Purple-Red Pigment

  • W. Ning
  • R. Q. Cao
Part of the Biotechnology in Agriculture and Forestry book series (AGRICULTURE, volume 37)


The genus Onosma belongs to the family Boraginaceae, and comprises 150 species of perennial herbs with dark purple roots (Fig. 1). It grows on the arid south side of sandy hillsides at an elevation of 500–3000 m and is distributed mainly in Iran and other countries and districts in Asia. There are 30 species in China, mainly in Yunnan, Sichan, and Xizang provinces (Kong and Wang 1989). Two species of Onosma are of medicinal use: Onosma paniculatum Bur. et Franch (Fig. 1) and Onosma hookeri Clarke var. Longiflorum Duthie. Their root bark is a traditional Chinese medicine. It is sweet, salty, cold, has antipyretic and detoxicating properties and helps in skin rashes. It is a remedy for nettle rash, acute and chronic hepatitis, chorionepithelioma, constipation, and for inhibiting the influenza virus. In decoction, it can be used externally to treat burns, scalds, frostbite, eczema, leg ulcers, skin inflammation, gynecological inflammation, and pityriasis, when the concentrated extract is rubbed on the affected parts. This decoction from Onosma root bark used externally has few side-effects (Compiling Group 1975).


Plant Cell Culture Pigment Production Fungal Elicitor Root Bark Pigment Formation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ai K-H, Li F-Y, Li Y, Wang W-B, Wu Y-R (1989) Studies on the naphthaquinone constituents of Onosma confertum W.W. Smith and quantitative determination of shikonin. Acta Bot Sin 31: 549–553Google Scholar
  2. Cai W-C, Yuan H-J (eds) (1982) Biology material chemical analysis method in common use. Science Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  3. Cao R-Q, Zhao Q-H (1991) Stimulation of shikonin derivatives accumulation in Onosma paniculatum and Lithospermum erythrorhizon cell cultures by fungal elicitors. In: Funisaki S, Endo I, Matsuno R (eds) Biochemical engineering for 2001. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, PP 286–288Google Scholar
  4. Compiling Group (eds) (1975) Compilation of nationwide Chinese medicine. People’s Hygiene Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  5. Dixon RA (1986) The phytoalexin response: elicitation, signaling and control of host gene expression. Biol Rev 61: 239–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Eilert U (1987) Elicitation: methodology and aspects of application. In: Constabel F, Vasil IK (eds) Cell culture and somatic cell genetics of plants, vol 4. Academic Press, New York, pp 153–196Google Scholar
  7. Fujita Y, Hara Y, Suga C, Morimoto T (1981) Production of shikonin derivatives by cell suspension cultures of Lithospermum erythrorhizon. II A new medium for the production of shikonin derivatives. Plant Cell Rep 1: 61–63Google Scholar
  8. Fujita T, Maeda Y, Suga C, Morimoto T (1983) Production of shikonin derivatives by cell suspension cultures of Lithospermum erythrorhizon. 111 Comparison of shikonin derivatives of cultured cells and ko-shikon. Plant Cell Rep 2: 192–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gamborg OL, Miller RA, Ojima K (1968) Nutrient requirement of suspension culture of soybean root cells. Exp Cell Res 50: 151–158PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gao J-H (1986) Study survey of the source, chemistry, pharmacology and clinical application of the gromwell. Chin Herbal Med 17: 268–271Google Scholar
  11. Hall RD, Holden MA, Yeoman MM (1988) Immobilization of higher plant cells. In: Bajaj YPS (ed) Biotechnology in agriculture and forestry, vol 4. Medicinal and aromatic plants I. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 136–156Google Scholar
  12. Heide L, Nishioka N, Fukui H, Tabata M (1989) Enzymatic regulation of shikonin biosynthesis in Lithospermum erythrorhizon cell cultures. Phytochemistry 28: 1873–1877CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kong X-W, Wang W-C (1989) Boraginaceae. In: Delectis Florae Reipublicae Popularis Sinicae Agendae Academiae Sinicae Edita (eds) Flora reipublicae popularis sinicae, vol 64. Science Press, Beijing, pp 45–55Google Scholar
  14. Linsmaier EM, Skoog F (1965) Organic growth factor requirement of tobacco tissue cultures. Physiol Plant 18: 100–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Liu D (1986) Large-scale cultivation of plant cells. Plant Physiol Commun 5: 1–6Google Scholar
  16. Mizukami H, Konoshima M, Tabata M (1977) Effect of nutritional factors on shikon in derivativeGoogle Scholar
  17. formation in Lithospermum erythrorhizon callus cultures. Phytochemistry 10: 1183–1186Google Scholar
  18. Ning W, Cao R-Q (1993) Regulation of fungal elicitors in plant secondary metabolism. Plant Physiol Commun 29: 321–329Google Scholar
  19. Ning W, Cao R-Q (1994) Lithospermum erythrorhizon cell culture and shikonin derivatives formation. Chin J Biotechnol 10: 76–80Google Scholar
  20. Ning W, Zhao Q-H, Xia Z-H, Cao R-Q (1994) Effects of fungal elicitor on shikonin derivatives formation in Onosma paniculatum cell culture. Acta Phytophysiol Sin 20: 325–331Google Scholar
  21. Rokem JS, Goldberg I (1985) Secondary metabolites from plant cell suspension cultures: methods for yield improvement. In: Arshalom M, Antonius L van W (eds) Advances in biotechnological processes, vol 4. Alan R Liss, New York, pp 241–274Google Scholar
  22. Sankawa U, Ebizuka Y, Miyazaki T, Isomura Y, Otsuka H, Shibata S, Inomata M, Fukuoka F (1977) Antitumor activity of shikonin and its derivatives. Chem Pharm Bull 25: 2392–2395PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Schnabl H, Zimmermann U (1989) Immobilization of plant protoplasts. In: Bajaj YPS (ed) Biotechnology in agriculture and forestry, vol 8. Plant protoplasts and genetic engineering I. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 63–96Google Scholar
  24. Tabata M, Fujita Y (1985) Production of shikonin by plant cell cultures. In: Zaitlin M (ed) Biotechnology in plant science. Academic Press, New York, pp 207–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Wang M-S, Ji K-M, Zhu R-X, Pan D-Q, Chen J-Q, Cao R-Q (1989) Effects of Fe’ and L-phe on the shikonin derivatives formation in Onosma paniculatum Bur. et Franch callus cultures. In: Liu D-J (ed) Proc Symp Biotechnology of Jiangsu province. Nanjing, pp 152–155Google Scholar
  26. Wang M-S, Li M-O, Cao R-Q, Yang Z-J, Xu Z-R, Lu M (1994) Effect of He—Ne laser and magnetic field in Onosma paniculatum Bur. et Franch callus. J Nanjing University (Nat Sci Ed) 30: 81–85Google Scholar
  27. Zhu F-C, Lu F-X, Xiang G-Q (1984) HPLC spectra of shikonin derivatives. Chromatogram 1: 131–133Google Scholar
  28. Zhu R-X, Cao R-Q, Wang M-S, Pan D-Q, Du Z-M, Lu W-F, Shi Y-Z (1990) Purple-red pigment formed in callus of Onosma paniculatum Bur. et Franch. Acta Bot Sin 32: 749–753Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Ning
  • R. Q. Cao
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentNanjing UniversityNanjingP.R. China

Personalised recommendations