Production of anthocyanins by plant cell cultures

Wei Zhang, Shintaro Furusaki

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    51 Citations (Scopus)


    Anthocyanins, responsible for the various attractive colors in plants, are becoming important alternative to many synthetic colorants due to increased public concerns over the safety of artificial food colors. Production of anthocyanins by plant cell cultures has been suggested as a feasible technology that has attracted considerable industrial and academic interests in the past two decades. This paper is to provide an overview of the present status and the future prospects in the commercial development of plant cell cultures for production of anthocyanins. The focus is on the strategies for enhancement of anthocyanin biosynthesis to achieve an economically viable technology for commercial applications. Through strain improvement, optimization of media and culture conditions, and intelligent process strategies such as elicitation and two-stage system, significant enhancement in productivity has been achieved in a number of cultures. However the yield of anthocyanins obtained so far is still far away from the full potential of anthocyanin synthesis by plant cell cultures. Further improvements require the insights on the regulation of anthocyanin synthesis, accumulation, storage and breakdown that will eventually lead to genetic manipulation of anthocyanin biosynthesis. Many studies have elucidated the metabolic pathway of anthocyanin biosynthesis. Preliminary studies on the regulation of anthocyanin biosynthesis on the levels of genes and enzymes are reviewed, showing that it is feasible to clone genes from secondary metabolism with an improved yield of anthocyanins. There is currently no commercial-scale trial for production of anthocyanin by plant cell cultures, but an intelligent integration of those existing strategies could provide a technology for industrial application competitive to the current production methods.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)231-252
    Number of pages22
    JournalBiotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


    • Anthocyanin
    • Biosynthetic pathway
    • Food colorants
    • Genetic manipulation
    • Plant cell cultures
    • secondary metabolism


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