Biotransformation: Definition, Techniques, and Advantages
30 Mar 2022

Biotransformation: Definition, Techniques, and Advantages

Anjali Singh, MS

As a content and community manager, I leverage my expertise in plant biotechnology, passion for tissue culture, and writing skills to create compelling articles, simplifying intricate scientific concepts, and address your inquiries. As a dedicated science communicator, I strive to spark curiosity and foster a love for science in my audience.

Anjali Singh, MS
Table of Contents

The chemical reactions catalyzed by enzymes, cells, or organs are known as biotransformation. It explores the unique properties of biocatalysts, such as their stereo and regiospecificity and their ability to carry out reactions at non extreme temperatures and pH values.


The chemical reactions catalyzed by enzymes, cells, or organs are known as biotransformation. It explores the unique properties of biocatalysts, such as their stereo and regiospecificity and their ability to carry out reactions at non extreme temperatures and pH values.

Do not confuse the term biotransformation with biosynthesis and biodegradation.

  • Biosynthesis: It’s the process of an assemblage of simple molecules into complex products by cells, organs, and organisms.
  • Biodegradation: In this process, complex substances are broken into simpler molecules.

Biotransformation has the ability to form products or to produce known products more efficiently. It can be used for the conversion of complex substances into catalysts using plant, animal, microbial cells, or purified enzymes.

Plants produce a range of secondary metabolites. And, for this purpose, plants are cultured in a tissue culture environment for the formation and accumulation of these compounds.

It’s because even if plant cells have the ability to produce specific secondary metabolites, they can’t accumulate them. However, these plant cells still have the ability to transform or convert exogenous substrates into products of interest.

The biotransformation of chemical compounds mediated by plant enzymes includes steroids, coumarin, alkaloid, aromatic, lignans, terpenoid, and a few other molecules.

In cell cultures, it’s not essential for the compounds or substrates to be natural intermediates. They can also be of synthetic origin. The plant enzymes can transform the substrates into required products.

The plant bioconversion system can be either used to produce novel products alone or in combination with organic synthesis. The intermediary products synthesized in the process help to create biosynthetic pathways.

In this article, you will learn the techniques of Biotransformation and the advantages of using the technique for the production of novel compounds.

Techniques of Biotransformation

  • Immobilized cells: It has been reported that immobilized plant cells might have a higher production rate under some situations compared to free cells in the suspensions. In this technique, cells are immobilized using a gel of calcium alginate, polyvinyl alcohol resin on fixed support of foam, fabric, or hollow fibers for the accumulation of secondary metabolites.
  • Hairy root culture: It’s one of the most widely used techniques to obtain secondary metabolites. This is because plants’ roots are a rich source of propane alkaloids, Catharanthus alkaloids, atropine, and hyoscyamine. In this method, hairy roots are sub-cultured on a solid medium and then placed on a rotary shaker at 1000 rpm at 250 0C in the dark in a liquid medium.
  • Free cells: The biotransformation in free cells is taken by many reactions including methylation, oxidation, hydroxylation, and acylation. The cells for this purpose are grown mainly using two techniques:
  • Callus Culture: Callus is an undifferentiated mass of cells. In tissue culture, it occurs when explants are cultured on a medium and the cells undergo differentiation and redifferentiation to develop into a whole plant.
  • Suspension Culture: In this method, cells are suspended in a liquid medium. This is done by transferring a cell mass into a liquid medium and continuous agitation into an Erlenmeyer flask.

The type of suspension cultures include:

  • Batch suspension cultures
  • Semi-continuous culture
  • Continuous culture

Some efficient strategies to increase the production of secondary metabolites in cultured cells include:

  • Efficiently select the clones
  • Permeabilize the cells
  • Selectively remove the metabolites from the media
  • Optimize the media to enhance production and excretion

Advantages of Biotransformation

Some well-known advantages of plant biotransformation are mentioned below:

  • Cell cultures expressing a series of enzyme activities can be used to carry out multiple reactions.
  • Using appropriate precursors, even non producing cell cultures can be used to produce the desired end product.
  • Biotransformation can be simple where one or more enzymes mediates a process in multiple steps.
  • In comparison with multiple-step biotransformation, single-step biotransformation is relatively efficient to boost the production of metabolites.
  • The substrate used in biotransformation can be natural or synthetic.

How Plant Cell Technology Is Helping Culturists Worldwide In Their Tissue Culture Application?

Plant Cell Technology is helping tissue culturists around the world by providing unique and world-class products and services that smoothen their process. It has MS media, agar, gellan gum, Plant Preservative Mixture (PPM), culture vessels, Biocoupler (TM), and masks in its store to facilitate your processes.

And, that’s not it! Plant Cell Technology also offers consultation services to culturists of all sizes that help to get instant solutions to your tissue culture problems.

So, visit today and find out more about our product and services and how they help you to excel in your tissue culture processes.

Happy Culturing!!

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