Metabolic engineering approaches for production of biochemicals in food and medicinal plants

Sarah A. Wilson, Susan C. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Historically, plants are a vital source of nutrients and pharmaceuticals. Recent advances in metabolic engineering have made it possible to not only increase the concentration of desired compounds, but also introduce novel biosynthetic pathways to a variety of species, allowing for enhanced nutritional or commercial value. To improve metabolic engineering capabilities, new transformation techniques have been developed to allow for gene specific silencing strategies or stacking of multiple genes within the same region of the chromosome. The 'omics' era has provided a new resource for elucidation of uncharacterized biosynthetic pathways, enabling novel metabolic engineering approaches. These resources are now allowing for advanced metabolic engineering of plant production systems, as well as the synthesis of increasingly complex products in engineered microbial hosts. The status of current metabolic engineering efforts is highlighted for the in vitro production of paclitaxel and the in vivo production of β-carotene in Golden Rice and other food crops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-182
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Opinion in Biotechnology
StatePublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
S.A.W. would like to acknowledge the support of the National Science Foundation-sponsored Institute for Cellular Engineering IGERT program ( DGE-0654128 ).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering


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