Laboratory of Plant Biotechnologies

About laboratory

The Laboratory of Plant Biotechnologies, the former Department of Plant Tissue Cultures on Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, was founded in 1993, but it has a 20- year background in PTC work. The Laboratory has all facilities needed for succesful aseptical work with plant cells in vitro. In the earlier period many new unique cultures of medicinal plants were established, both callus and suspensions, and especially methodical problems were studied. These included introduction of new immobilization methods, design of fermenter vessels,sterilisation of nutrient media by chemical means, etc. Studies of production of glycoalkaloids by Solanum aviculare or biotransformation of organic compounds by plant cells (pesticides, etc.) were later shifted to studies of other plants of medicinal importance, and more environmentally oriented studies concerning basic research aspects of phytoremediation, the use of plants for removal of contaminants from the environment. Despite its short tradition the Laboratory served as training site of many undergraduate and PhD students from different universities, the staff was also involved in the organisation of international conferences.

Organic Pollutants


Toxic Metals & Radionuclides Pollution


Secondary Metabolites



Organic molecules containing nitrate groups are manufactured primarily for explosives or for their pharmacological effects. The contamination of the environment by explosives, especially by nitroesters and nitroaromatics (NACs), is a worldwide environmental problem since enormous amounts of these compounds were produced during World War I and II. Most contaminated sites are located at ammunition factories and other places where these compounds were handled. One of inexpensive approach for cleanup of soil and water contaminated with these propellants is the use phytoremediation.


Heavy metals and radionuclides represent high stress factor for environment and for human. Their toxicities or radiotoxicities are expressed in many different effects and it can be cause of indigestions, different dermatitis, changes in blood count, damage of fundamental organs (brain, liver, kidney), cancerous processes etc. For majority of cations the strong binding with -SH, -COOH and -NH2 groups is characteristic. Therefore more important is the lowering of toxic metals on the natural level. Phytoremediation is still a nascent technology that seeks to exploit the metabolic capabilities and growth habits of higher plants: delivering a cheap, soft and safe biological treatment that is applicable to specific contaminated sites and wastewaters is a relatively recent focus.


Plants produce a huge variety of compounds exploited by pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic industry. Production of some plant compounds is problematic due to their low contents in raw material, difficult field cultivation, slow growing of plants, etc. As an example could be mentioned anticancer drugs Taxol from Taxus species or Vinblastine and Vincristine from Catharanthus roseus. Alternative approach to field cultivation or to material collection from natural sources is cultivation under controlled conditions on solid or liquid sterile medium where desired products are harvested from a biomass or a culture medium. We are currently working mainly on in vitro production of ginsenosides by Panax ginseng root culture. Different approaches such as culture conditions, medium composition, and elicitation are studied to increase root growth as well as to improve production of ginsenosides.


Among those plants that are already known to contain biologically active compounds there is still plenty of species waiting for exploring. The main field of our interest is the screening of extracts and compounds of plant origin to find new inhibitors of cyclooxygenases, enzymes involved in mammalian inflammatory processes. We use in vitro enzymatic assay for this purpose.
Herbal extracts are often use in modern medicine. We use herbal extract or specific agent from it. Both possibilities have got some advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is the possibility of chemical characterization and derivation of new forms. Derivatization is defined as an additional chemical modification of efficacious compounds. New analogues haven't got only different physical properties like solubility or molecular weight but we can also change transport in organism.

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