Plant cell cultures have been shown as feasible systems for the production of secondary metabolites, being the elicitation with biotic or abiotic stimuli the most efficient strategy to increase the production of those metabolites. Vitaceae phytoalexins constitute a group of molecules belonging to the stilbene family which are derivatives of the trans-resveratrol structure and are produced by plants and cell cultures as a response to biotic and abiotic stresses. The potential benefits of resveratrol on human health have made it one of the most thoroughly studied phytochemical molecules. The aim of this study was to evaluate the elicitor effect of both cyclodextrin (CD) and methyljasmonate (MeJA) on grapevine cell cultures by carrying out a quantitative analysis of their role on resveratrol production and on the expression of stilbene biosynthetic genes in Vitis vinifera cv Monastrell albino cell suspension cultures.
MeJA and CD significantly but transiently induced the expression of stilbene biosynthetic genes when independently used to treat grapevine cells. This expression correlated with resveratrol production in CD-treated cells but not in MeJA-treated cells, which growth was drastically affected. In the combined treatment of CD and MeJA cell growth was similarly affected, however resveratrol production was almost one order of magnitude higher, in correlation with maximum expression values for stilbene biosynthetic genes.
The effect of MeJA on cell division combined with a true and strong elicitor like CD could be responsible for the observed synergistic effect of both compounds on resveratrol production and on the expression of genes in the stilbene pathway.