Efficient production and recovery of diterpenoid tanshinones in Salvia miltiorrhiza hairy root cultures with in situ adsorption, elicitation and semi-continuous operation

Qiong Yan, Zongding Hu, Ren Xiang Tan, Jianyong Wu

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72 Citations (Scopus)


In Salvia miltiorrhiza hairy root cultures, the desired secondary metabolites diterpenoid tanshinones are normally produced at low yields and stored within the roots. To enhance tanshinone production and the secondary product recovery, we employed three means, elicitation with a yeast elicitor (YE), in situ adsorption of tanshinones with a hydrophobic polymeric resin (X-5) and semi-continuous mode of operation. YE treatment stimulated the tanshinone biosynthesis, increasing the total tanshinone (TT) content of root by about two-fold, from 0.46 to 1.37 mg/g dry weight (dw) (TT content = total content of three major tanshinones, cryptotanshinone, tanshinone I and tanshinone IIA). The addition of X-5 resins to the culture only increased the tanshinone yield slightly, but recovered more than 80% of tanshinones from the roots. With the application of a semi-continuous culture process involving repeated medium renewal, elicitor addition and resin replacement, starting at the late exponential growth phase, the root biomass was increased to 30.5 g dw/l (versus 8-10 g dw/l in batch mode) and the volumetric tanshinone yield to 87.5 mg/l (about 15-fold increase), with 76.5% adsorbed to the resin. The volumetric productivity of total tanshinone reached 1.46 mg/l day, more than 7.4 times that of the batch culture. The results demonstrate that the integration of multiple elicitation, in situ adsorption and semi-continuous operation can synergistically enhance tanshinone production in S. miltiorrhiza hairy root cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-424
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biotechnology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2005


  • Elicitation
  • Hairy root culture
  • In situ adsorption
  • Medium renewal
  • Salvia miltiorrhiza
  • Tanshinones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology

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