Suspension culture of Taxus chinensis cells was carried out in aqueous-organic two-phase systems for the production and in situ solvent extraction of taxol (paclitaxel). Three organic solvents, hexadecane, decanol, and dibutylphthalate, were tested at 5-20% (v/v) in the culture liquid. All of these solvents stimulated taxol release and the yield per cell, though decanol and higher concentrations of the other two solvents depressed biomass growth significantly. Ten percent dibutylphthalate was the optimal solvent for improving taxol production and release with minimal cell growth inhibition. The time of solvent addition to the culture also affected taxol production, with the addition during the late-log growth phase being most favorable. By feeding sucrose to the culture near the stationary growth phase, the cell growth and taxol production period was extended from 27 to 42 days. The combining of the two-phase culture and sucrose feeding increased the taxol yield by about 6-fold compared with the single-phase batch culture, to 36.0 ± 3.5 mg/L, with up to 63% taxol released. This study shows that in situ solvent extraction combined with nutrient feeding is an effective process strategy for production and recovery of secondary metabolites in plant cell suspension culture.
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