Many plants can produce bioactive chemicals with medicinal or health benefits, which has stimulated a whole new research effort aimed at extracting & improving natural phytochemicals. Begonia is a rich source of biologically-active phytochemicals and an excellent donor for natural anthocyanin pigments. High levels of triterpene compounds and a host of potentially-useful flavonoids have been isolated from Begonia sp., which may account for its frequent use as a medicinal plant remedy in a diverse array of cultures worldwide. Deliberate shifting of the physical and chemical microenvironments can have a significant effect on anthocyanins and precursors produced in vitro. This realization offers the potential to thoroughly screen and study valuable phytochemicals from Begonia. Begonia genotypes from 3 species were screened to identify callus induction techniques. Contamination inherent in the vascular system of one genotype, along with spontaneous organogenesis, were found to be recurrent problems. These were partially alleviated by light and growth regulator treatments. Studies comparing callus and in vitro vegetative tissues as resources for phytochemical extraction are scheduled.
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