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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706-1590

Taxol, a promising anticancer drug, is limited by inadequate supply. The production of taxol and related compounds (taxanes) by Taxus tissue cultures has been reported, yet sustained production has not been demonstrated. One theory is that cell differentiation and/or tissue organization is required to sequester taxol and avoid autotoxicity. To investigate this, T. cuspidata shoot cultures were established and the taxane content of various culture stages compared to that of field needles. HPLC analysis identified two peaks which comigrated and had UV spectra identical to taxol and 10-deacetyl taxol. The levels of 10-deacetyl taxol were similar in all samples. Cultured shoots contained much less taxol than field needles, and the level of a third peak which migrates closely to taxol was inversely related to that of taxol. Taxol content was restored in the first flush out of culture. Shoot cultures of T. brevifolia, T. x media, and T. canadensis have also been analyzed. In addition to shoot cultures, nodule cultures, a biological unit that may be suitable for production of taxanes in plant bioreactors, have been initiated and characterized.

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