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Industrial Crops and Products
Vol. 82, 2016, Pages: 9–22

Exploring plant tissue culture to improve the production of phenolic compounds: A review

Maria InÍs Dias, Maria Jo„o Sousa, Rita C. Alves, Isabel C.F.R. Ferreira

Mountain Research Centre (CIMO), ESA, Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, Campus de Santa Apolónia, 1172, 5301-855 Bragança, Portugal.


Plant tissue and organ culture has been extensively used from the beginning of the XX century for the study and comprehension of some primary biological mechanisms such as morphogenesis. However, with the increasing demand of the market for novel products derived from plants, in vitro culture became a reliable technique for the mass production of plant material. Moreover, the potential to use this technique for the production of some bioactive compounds, such as phenolic compounds, is immense since it allows the manipulation of the biosynthetic routes to increase the production and accumulation of specific compounds. This work intends to make a brief historical review of in vitro culture, highlighting its use for the production of bioactive compounds. Also, emphasizes the importance of phenolic compounds for the consumer as well reviews the metabolic pathways involved in its production in plant cells. Furthermore, it was carried out a comprehensive study on the work developed for the production of plant phenolic compounds in in vitro cultures, as well as on the type of elicitors used to increase of the same production; also a brief highlighting of the phenolic compounds which serve as elicitors. There are numerous reports directed to the production of phenolic extracts in in vitro plant cultures, however there is a lack in the production of individual phenolic compounds mainly due to the complexity of the biosynthetic routes and extraction procedures. Elicitation procedures are often used to increase the production of phenolics, achieving in most cases higher yields than in non-elicitated cultures. The increasing production of bioactive phenolic extracts/compounds allows for their further applicability, namely in the industry of functional foods or in pharmaceutical/medical fields.

Keywords: In vitro culture; Phenolic compounds; Biosynthetic routes; Metabolite production; Elicitation.

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