Cephalotaxus harringtonia plants produce alkaloid compounds possessing antitumor properties, the major one being homoharringtonine. The purpose of this study was to produce roots from callus cultures developed earlier. Fast growing callus cultures were placed on MS basal salt medium with B-5 vitamins, 2% sucrose, 10 μM kinetin, 0.45 μM 2,4-D and 0.2% Gelrite. Upon subculture onto basal medium without hormones, we observed organogenesis of both shoots and roots. Roots were excised and established on basal medium without hormones. By subculturing two 2-inch root tips containing numerous visible laterals in liquid medium we were able to harvest 30 g of roots/250 ml flask after 3 weeks and 50 g/250 ml flask after 6 weeks. A 20-fold increase in fresh weight was achieved within 3 weeks when 15 grams of roots were initially seeded into a 3 liter air-sparged bioreactor. However, most of these roots appeared to be fleshy/swollen while root cultures established from half inch root tips grew slower but were normal in appearance. We arc currently in the process of establishing growth characteristics for these roots and assaying roots for the presence of these alkaloids.
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