Plants are useful sources of molecules for the development of new pharmaceutical products. Coumarins are one of the most important secondary metabolites of plants and known as naturally occurring benzo-α-pyrone derivatives from the metabolism of phenylalanine. Many kinds of coumarins such as furocoumarins and pyranocoumarins arise from the biosynthetic pathway as being the substitution of the coumarin ring following by some steps such as prenylation, cyclization or glycosylation. The coumarins particularly exist in Apiaceae, Rutaceae, Fabaceae, Asteraceae and Rosaceae families, which have considerable pharmacological properties and usages. To date, more than 1000 different types of coumarins have been isolated from natural sources. Biotechnology is the most recent application in developing useful products used in medicine or industry. The coumarin production was determined in the presence of some precursors in suspensions. Thus, the biosynthesis of some coumarins has been carried out in cell cultures by different types of applications. Moreover, dipyranocoumarins as cancer chemoprevention agents and valuable dihydrocoumarin in flavor industry have been produced in callus cultures. Although the major problem of these productions is very low efficiency; most of the coumarins especially important ones in treatment are promising candidates for the production in the biotechnological process. In this chapter, these procedures will be elucidated, and the coumarin production will be debated in the optimized systems in relation to biotechnology under the light of recent articles. In addition, some beneficial information concerning coumarins will be presented.
Keywords: Secondary metabolites, coumarins, furocoumarins, pyranocoumarins, biosynthetic pathway, biological activity, phytochemistry, biotechnology, cell culture system, elicitor, suspension cultures.