The terpenoid indole alkaloids are one of the major classes of plant-derived natural products and are well known for their many applications in the pharmaceutical, fragrance and cosmetics industries. Hairy root cultures are useful for the production of plant secondary metabolites because of their genetic and biochemical stability and their rapid growth in hormone-free media. Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L. cv. Petit Havana SR1) hairy roots, which do not produce geraniol naturally, were engineered to express a plastid-targeted geraniol synthase gene originally isolated from Valeriana officinalis L. (VoGES). A SPME-GC-MS screening tool was developed for the rapid evaluation of production clones. The GC-MS analysis revealed that the free geraniol content in 20 hairy root clones expressing VoGES was an average of 13.7 µg/g dry weight (DW) and a maximum of 31.3 µg/g DW. More detailed metabolic analysis revealed that geraniol derivatives were present in six major glycoside forms, namely the hexose and/or pentose conjugates of geraniol and hydroxygeraniol, resulting in total geraniol levels of up to 204.3 µg/g DW following deglycosylation. A benchtop-scale process was developed in a 20-L wave-mixed bioreactor eventually yielding hundreds of grams of biomass and milligram quantities of geraniol per cultivation bag.
- hairy root
- terpenoid indole alkaloid