Effects of biotic and abiotic elicitors on cell growth and tanshinone accumulation in Salvia miltiorrhiza cell cultures

Jiang Lin Zhao, Li Gang Zhou, Jianyong Wu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

227 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the effects of biotic and abiotic elicitors on the production of diterpenoid tanshinones in Salvia miltiorrhiza cell culture. Four classes of elicitors were tested, heavy metal ions (Co2+, Ag+, Cd2+), polysaccharides (yeast extract and chitosan), plant response-signaling compounds (salicylic acid and methyl jasmonate), and hyperosmotic stress (with sorbitol). Of these, Ag (silver nitrate), Cd (cadmium chloride), and polysaccharide from yeast extract (YE) were most effective to stimulate the tanshinone production, increasing the total tanshinone content of cell by more than ten-fold (2.3 mg g-1versus 0.2 mg g-1in control). The stimulating effect was concentration-dependent, most significant at 25 μM of Ag and Cd and 100 mg l-1(carbohydrate content) of YE. Of the three tanshinones detected, cryptotanshinone was stimulated most dramatically by about 30-fold and tanshinones I and IIA by no more than 5-fold. Meanwhile, most of the elicitors suppressed cell growth, decreasing the biomass yield by about 50% (5.1-5.5 g l-1versus 8.9 g l-1in control). The elicitors also stimulated the phenylalanine ammonia lyase activity of cells and transient increases in the medium pH and conductivity. The results suggest that the elicitor-stimulated tanshinone accumulation was a stress response of the cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-144
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010


  • Cell culture
  • Elicitors
  • Salvia miltiorrhiza
  • Stress response
  • Tanshinones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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