Agrobacterium rhizogenes-mediated transformation: Root cultures as a source of alkaloids

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    Hairy roots, transformed with Agrobacterium rhizogenes, have been found to be suitable for the production of secondary metabolites because of their stable and high productivity in hormone-free culture conditions. A number of plant species including many medicinal plants have been successfully transformed with Agrobacterium rhizogenes. Transformed root cultures have also been found to be a potential source of high-value pharmaceuticals. In this article the most important alkaloids produced by hairy roots are summarised. Several different methods have been used to increase the alkaloid accumulation in hairy root cultures. The selection of high productive root lines based on somaclonal variation offers an interesting option to enhance the productivity. Elicitors and modification of culture conditions have been shown to increase the growth and the alkaloid production in some cases. Genetic engineering is a modern tool to regulate the secondary metabolism also in hairy roots. However, our knowledge on biosynthesis of many alkaloids is still poor. Only a limited number of enzymes and their respective genes which regulate the biosynthetic pathways are fully characterised.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)859-868
    JournalPlanta Medica
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2002
    MoE publication typeNot Eligible


    • Agrobacterium rhizogenes
    • alkaloids
    • genetic engineering
    • hairy roots
    • secondary metabolites
    • metabolites


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