Improvement of plastic-based disposable bioreactors for plant science needs

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The present article describes two new applications of plastic-based cell culture systems in the plant biotechnology domain. Different types of bioreactors are used at Nestlé R&D Center-Tours for large scale culture of plants cells to produce metabolites or recombinant proteins and for mass propagation of selected plant varieties by somatic embryogenesis. Particularly, recent studies are directed to cut down the production costs of these two processes by developing disposable cell culture systems. For large scale culture, two novel flexible plastic-based disposable bioreactors have been developed from 10 to 100 l working volumes, validated with several plant species (“Wave and Undertow” and “Slug Bubble” bioreactors). Vegetative propagation of elite plant varieties is achieved through somatic embryogenesis in liquid medium. A pilot scale process has been recently set up for the industrial propagation of Coffea canephora (Robusta coffee). The current production capacity is 2.5–3.0 million embryos per year. The pre-germination of the embryos was previously conducted by temporary immersion in liquid medium in 10-l glass bioreactors. An improved process has been developed using a 10-l disposable bioreactor consisting in a bag containing a rigid plastic box (“Box-in-Bag” bioreactor), insuring, amongst other advantages, a higher light transmittance to the biomass due to its horizontal design.

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