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Significant enhancement of lignan accumulation in hairy root cultures of Linum album using biotic elicitors


Linum album has been shown to accumulate some lignans with antiviral and anticancer properties such as podophyllotoxin (PTOX) and 6-methoxy podophyllotoxin (MPTOX). In this research, we examined the effects of fungal elicitors on the production of lignans in L. album hairy root cultures. The biosynthesis of lignans was differentially affected by fungal elicitors. Fusarium graminearum extract induced the highest increase of PTOX, 190 μg g−1 dry weight (DW), and lariciresinol, 260 μg g−1 DW, which was two-fold and three-fold greater than the untreated control, respectively, while Trichoderma viride extract enhanced the accumulation of MPTOX, instead of PTOX, up to 160 µg g−1 DW, which was 2.4-fold greater than the control. The enhancing effects of fungal elicitors on lignans production was correlated with the increased expression of some key genes involved in the biosynthesis of these compounds, phenylalanine ammonia-lyase, cinnamoyl-CoA reductase, cinnamyl-alcohol dehydrogenase and pinoresinol-lariciresinol reductase.

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Cinnamyl-alcohol dehydrogenase


Cinnamoyl-CoA reductase


Liquid chromatography–electrospray–mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry


6-Methoxy podophyllotoxin


Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase




Pinoresinol-lariciresinol reductase


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We are thankful to Tohru Yamagaki and Ryoichi Araki from Scientific and Technical Services of the Suntory Foundation for Life Sciences, Bioorganic Research Institute, for ESI–MS and qPCR analyses.

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Correspondence to Sedigheh Esmaeilzadeh Bahabadi.

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Communicated by E. Kuzniak-Gebarowska.

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Esmaeilzadeh Bahabadi, S., Sharifi, M., Ahmadian Chashmi, N. et al. Significant enhancement of lignan accumulation in hairy root cultures of Linum album using biotic elicitors. Acta Physiol Plant 36, 3325–3331 (2014).

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  • Elicitation
  • Hairy root
  • Lignan
  • Linum album