Enhanced secondary metabolite (tanshinone) production of Salvia miltiorrhiza hairy roots in a novel root-bacteria coculture process

Jianyong Wu, Janet Ng, Ming Shi, Shu Jing Wu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge (Lamiaceae) hairy root cultures were inoculated (at 0.02 and 0.2% v/v) and co-cultured with Bacillus cereus bacteria. The root biomass growth was inhibited significantly by the bacteria inoculated to the root culture on the first day (day 0) but not by the bacteria inoculated on days 14 or 21 (in a 28-day overall period). On the other hand, the growth of the bacteria in the hairy root culture was also strongly inhibited by the hairy roots, partially because of the antibacterial activity of the secondary compounds produced by the roots. Most interestingly, the tanshinone production was promoted by the inoculation of bacteria at any of these days but more significantly by an earlier bacteria inoculation. With 0.2% bacteria inoculated on day 0, for example, the total tanshinone content of roots was increased by more than 12-fold (from 0.20 to 2.67 mg g-1dry weight), and the volumetric tanshinone yield increased by more than sixfold (from 1.40 to 10.4 mg l-1). The tanshinone production was also stimulated by bacterial water extract and bacterial culture supernatant but less significantly than by the inoculation of live bacteria. The results suggest that the stimulation of tanshinone production by live bacteria in the root cultures may be attributed to the elicitor compounds originating from the bacteria, and the hairy root-bacteria coculture may be an effective strategy for improving secondary metabolite production in plant tissue cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-550
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2007


  • Bacillus cereus
  • Coculture
  • Diterpenoid tanshinones
  • Hairy roots
  • Plant-microbe interaction
  • Salvia miltiorrhiza

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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