Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering, Vol.113, No.1, 99-105, 2012
Large-scale production of saikosaponins through root culturing of Bupleurum falcatum L. using modified airlift reactors
Modification of internal configuration of a bubble column, airlift and stirred tank reactor (10-200 L) was made for root cultures of Bupleurum falcatum L Agitation with an impeller covered with partition mesh was ineffective for a 10-L modified reactor, because it caused intensive foaming and subsequent overflow of the culture medium even at a low rotation speed of 50 rpm and a low aeration rate of 0.1 vvm (volume per volume of medium). In contrast, efficient aeration through a ceramic sparger placed at the bottom of a 20-L bubble column reactor yielded approximately 25 g/L of dry roots and 500 mg/L of sailcosaponin-a and saikosaponin-d over 42 days. On a 200-L scale, however, the roots became flocculated under the upper perforated plate initially positioned near the middle of the reactor, forming a firm disk of roots and a large empty space between the disk and the medium. Thus, the roots had poor contact with the medium, which severely suppressed their growth. To avoid this flocculation, a bottom perforated plate and draft tube were installed as a partitioning device separating the culturing area (outside the draft tube) from the aeration area (inside the draft tube). The draft tube was made of a stainless steel mesh rather than a solid material, and the tube greatly increased the root yield in the 20-L reactor. This configuration was successfully applied at the 200-L scale, yielding 500-600 mg/L of saikosaponin-a and saikosaponin-d over 56 days. (C) 2011, The Society for Biotechnology, Japan. All rights reserved.