Camptothecin, produced by Camptotheca acuminata, is a pharmaceutically important compound. Transgenic technology has potential uses for the enhancement of camptothecin production; however, an efficient plant regeneration protocol for C. acuminata is not currently available. Factors that affected successful seedling germination were evaluated. The regeneration potential of various parts of seedlings was tested. Camptothecin production in regenerated plants was compared to its production in calluses and the original seedlings. Dark incubation and seed coat removal led to a higher germination rate and a higher survival rate after germination. The best shoot induction medium was found to be Gamborg's B5 medium 8.9 μM benzyladenine. Among the calluses induced from various parts of seedlings, leaf petiole calluses, leaf disc calluses, and cotyledon calluses regenerated shoots, but internode calluses did not. Furthermore, leaf petiole calluses and leaf disc calluses regenerated normal shoots, while cotyledon calluses regenerated hyperhydric shoots. Moreover, leaf petiole calluses had a higher shoot regeneration rate, 50% versus 9%, and a higher shoot number, 6.2 ± 0.5 versus 2.0 ± 0.3, than did leaf disc calluses on the best shoot induction medium. It took 4–6 wk to regenerate shoots after transfer into shoot induction media. Camptothecin concentration in the regenerated plants was significantly higher than that in the calluses and similar to that in the original seedlings. In conclusion, leaf petioles provide efficient plant regeneration of C. acuminata.
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