Past Attendees Biography

Boualem HARFI

Biotechnology Research Center (C.R.Bt – Constantine), Algeria


Medicinal plants: Ex situ production of bioactive molecules

Boualem HARFI1, Amira BENAHMED1, Lakhdar KHELIFI2

1 Biotechnology Research Center (C.R.Bt – Constantine), Algeria

2 National Higher School of Agronomy (ENSA – El-Harrach), Algeria


Pharmaceutical and food industries are interested in medicinal plant bioactive molecules that increase studies interest of natural compounds and methods for their obtainment. Medicinal plants have always drawn interest in both scientific research and industry. With a view to preserving and sustainably exploiting local biological resources, the main objective of our studies is the establishment of optimized biotechnological processes for the ex situ production of this bioactive molecules.

Many studies have been carried out, aiming to scale up the production of plant secondary metabolites. Clearly, in vitro cultures have been an option for plant multiplication and production of valuable compounds.

For these purposes, we present two models for biomolecules production based on in vitro plant cultures. The first one, using hairy root (HR) culture technics of Datura species for tropane alkaloids production, the second one, for the production of Origanum glandulosum essential oils (EOs) based on the acclimatization of micro propagated plants. To improve the production, several strategies were made, particularly, the elicitation approach and the monitoring control of vitro plants acclimatization conditions.

The elicitors salicylic acid (SA) and acetyl salicylic acid (ASA) were used to increase hyoscyamine (HS) production. The results showed that the optimal concentration of the two elicitors (AS and ASA) was 0.1 mM. The highest HS content (17.94 ± 0.14 mg g−1 D.W.) obtained in HRs of D. tatula treated with 0.1 mM of ASA.

For Origanum glandulosum EOs, the results of the study enabled the establishment of a production process after 70 days of oregano vitro plants acclimatization, with an extraction yield of 1.48 ml 100 g−1 D.W., an EO with thymol-chemo type (28%) and similar biological activities to that of EO of wild plants. Ex situ EO production of oregano can be staggered throughout the year.


Audience Take Away: As the theme of my presentation is about applied research and to improve the plant biomolecules production, the interested public could draw inspiration from the models I used for their work.

  • Produce biologically active molecules at the lowest cost.
  • Produce biomolecules of interest of high quality (pure).
  • Ensure production throughout the year.
  • Produce with a reproductive chromatographic profile (same composition for essential oils).
  • Preserve the biological diversity of medicinal plants (ex-situ production).


Dr. Boualem HARFI, Director of the research division "Biotechnology and Agriculture" at the Biotechnology Research Center (C.R.Bt) of Constantine since 2014.He completed his studies in agronomic sciences at the National Higher School of Agronomy (ENSA - El-Harrach) and earned his doctorate in 2013 with emphasis in "Plant Biotechnologies". Dr. Boualem HARFI began his professional career as Associate Professor in charge of the "Genetics" module at ENSA. His work focuses on the development of biotechnological models based on plant tissue culture to produce biologically active molecules from plant.

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