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Sustainable production of phyto-ingredients using hairy root cultures.

Country of Origin: Singapore
Reference Number: TOSG20170712003
Publication Date: 12 July 2017


An educational institution in Singapore has developed a customisable platform that consists of a genetically and biochemically stable plant root production system, forming a controlled process that generates repeatable results. 

The institution is seeking research or licensing partnerships with industry collaborators including SMEs of all sizes or MNEs.


Plant cell suspension culture has been considered as an alternative to agricultural processes for producing valuable secondary metabolites. 

The biggest challenge of producing secondary metabolites from plant cell suspension cultures is that secondary metabolites are usually produced by specialised cells and/or at distinct developmental stages. Some compounds are not able to be synthesised if the cells remain undifferentiated. Therefore, undifferentiated plant cell suspension cultures often lose, partially or totally, their biosynthetic ability to accumulate secondary products.

Hairy root cultures of plants present a suitable alternative to plant cell suspension cultures for the production of phyto-ingredients as they are genetically stable, lack geotropism, often grow as fast as or faster than plant cell cultures and do not require hormones in the medium.

The greatest advantage of hairy roots is that hairy root cultures often exhibit about the same or greater biosynthetic capacity for secondary metabolite production compared to their mother plants.

In the customisable platform developed by the Singapore educational institution, plant hairy root cultures are obtained by transforming plant tissues with the “natural genetic engineer” Agrobacterium rhizogenes. The hairy root culture platform has the potential to reliably produce high-value novel compounds from rare and/or unexplored plants in a controlled process generating repeatable results. The compound yield and quality can be altered to suit the requirements by customising the growth conditions.

Hairy root cultures offer promise for mass production of high-value secondary metabolites and enzymes, with therapeutic or industrial application e.g. pharmaceuticals, pigments and flavours.

As the system allows production of metabolites in controlled conditions, manipulations to the culture can result in increase or decrease of compounds of interest. Furthermore, the system allows biotransformation of compounds that will help easy produce valuable secondary metabolites which are difficult to synthesise.

The institution seeks R&D and licensing partnerships with industry players (SMEs of all sizes or MNEs) with an interest to use this technology for product development.

Advantages and Innovations

The advantages of this technology include the potential to reliably produce high-value novel compounds from rare and/or unexplored plants.   

This customisable platform comprising a genetically and biochemically stable plant root production system provides a controlled process that can generate repeatable results.

Stage Of Development

Under development/lab tested

Requested partner

The Singapore educational institution seeks to work with SMEs of all sizes or MNEs in a licensing or research cooperation agreement partnership.

The partner sought could be an industry player from the sectors such as, but not limited to nutritional healthcare, pharmaceutical, agricultural or fragrances who is keen to explore the following types of partnerships:

i) Licensing agreement:
The partner can license the technology to further develop and commercialise it to offer to their customers.

ii) Research cooperation agreement:
The partner can undertake joint R&D with the Singapore research institution to offer to further develop it to introduce to new customers or market segments.

Kooperationsanfrage stellen