Hairy Root Culture an Alternative for Bioactive Compound Production from Medicinal Plants

Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2021;22(1):136-149. doi: 10.2174/1389201021666201229110625.


Medicinal plants produce a diverse group of phytocompounds like anthraquinones, alkaloids, anthocyanins, flavonoids, saponins, and terpenes which are used in pharmaceutical, perfume, cosmetics, dye and flavor industries. Commercial source of these metabolites is field-grown plants, which are generally influenced by seasonal changes. Biotechnology possesses a significant role in production of high-value secondary metabolites. By incorporating biotechnological methods, it is feasible to manage biosynthetic pathways of the plant to enhance phytocompound production that is of pharmaceutical interest. Plant cell suspension, shoot, adventitious root and hairy root culture are considered as alternative methods for important bioactive compound production. These methods are controllable, sustainable and overcome several inconveniences for large scale secondary metabolites production. At present research on hairy root culture for valuable bioactive compound production has gained a lot of attention. Agrobacterium rhizogenes is an agent which causes hairy root disease in a plant and this leads to the neoplastic growth of root which is characterized by higher growth rate and genetic stability. Various studies explore the hairy root culture for production of a wide range of bioactive compounds. Scale-up of hairy root culture using bioreactors has provided an opportunity to enhance bioactive compound production at the commercial level. The present review discusses the role of hairy root culture in the production of valuable bioactive compounds, the effect of culture parameters on bioactive compound production and bioreactor applications.

Keywords: Agrobacterium rhizogenes; Medicinal plants; bioactive compounds; bioreactor; elicitors; scale up.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agrobacterium / growth & development*
  • Bioreactors / microbiology*
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Phytochemicals / biosynthesis*
  • Plant Roots / metabolism*
  • Plant Roots / microbiology
  • Plants, Medicinal / metabolism*
  • Plants, Medicinal / microbiology


  • Phytochemicals

Supplementary concepts

  • Agrobacterium rhizogenes