Plant cell culture

Robert J. Lebowitz lebowitz at krypton.mankato.msus.edu
Sun Sep 5 17:02:29 EST 1993


There have been only a few cases where plant cells have been used
succesfully in commerce for production of secondary products.  The most
famous of course, is the Japanese work done with shikonin.  The West
Germans also produce rosmarinic acid using coleus cell suspension
cultures.  I've read articles about a company using transformed tobacco
cells to manufacture human melanin as a sun screen additive, and I'm
aware that there is a great deal of interest in the use of periwinkle
derivatives such as vincristine and vinblastine as anti-cancer drugs.  

The truth is, plant cells are a bit fussy, tend to change t heir growth
and secondary product expression characteristics, and require different
bioreactors for large scale use than bacteria.  I'd be surprised if they
ever emerge as a major source of biochemicals.  I think that other
eukaryotic systems are much better studied and controlled.

Note that I am a plant biologist, but I'm still a bit pessimistic about
this particular use of plant cell cultures.

Rob
-- 
"Not the same thing a bit!" said the Hatter.
"You might just as well say that I see what I eat is the same thing as
 I eat what I see"
Robert_Lebowitz at Mankato.MSUS.EDU



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