Ultrasound-induced physiological effects and secondary metabolite (saponin) production in Panax ginseng cell cultures

Lidong Lin, Jianyong Wu, Kwok Ping Ho, Shuyuan Qi

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


This work was aimed at the effects of ultrasound (US) on the growth and secondary metabolite biosynthesis of cultured plant cells. Suspension cultures of Panax ginseng cells were exposed to US at power density below 82 mW/cm3for short periods of time (1-4 min) in a US bath (38.5-kHz fixed frequency and 810 W maximum peak power). Under most exposure conditions, US stimulated the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites, the ginsenoside saponins of ginseng cells, increasing the total saponin content of the cell by up to 75%. The growth and viability of ginseng cells were usually depressed immediately after the exposure to US, but recovered gradually to levels similar to those of a normal culture in a few days, with virtually no net loss of biomass yield at the end of the culture period. At some lower US doses, sonicated cultures could even reach slightly higher biomass yields than that of normal cultures. The effects of US on cell growth and secondary metabolite yield showed a significant correlation with the total US energy emitted (i.e., the product of US power and exposure time). Mechanical stress and microstreaming induced by acoustic cavitation were considered as the most possible causes of the various physiological effects of US on ginseng cells. In particular, the stimulation of secondary metabolite production by US may be a result of US-induced plant cell defense response.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1147-1152
Number of pages6
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2001


  • Panax ginseng
  • Plant cell culture
  • Saponin
  • Secondary metabolites
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biophysics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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