Metabolic engineering of natural products in plants; tools of the trade and challenges for the future

Shuiqin Wu, Joe Chappell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Plant natural products play essential roles in plant survivability and many of them are used as nutrients, colorants, flavors, fragrances, and medicines. Genetic engineering of plants for natural products can help alleviate the demands for limited natural resources. Successes in enhancing production capacities have included manipulating blocks of genes coding for segments of pathways, over-expression of putative rate-limiting steps in pathways, expression of transcription factors regulating the entire metabolic pathways, and the construction of novel branch pathways capable of diverting carbon to the biosynthesis of unique metabolites in unexpected intracellular compartments. Further enhancements are likely if more efficient pathways can be constructed, providing for the efficient channeling of intermediates to final products, and if the means for sequestering natural products in planta can be accomplished.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-152
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Biotechnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Work from the authors’ laboratory discussed here has been supported by grants from NSF and Firmenich, SA. We thank Drs Jeanne Rasbery and Walter Suza for their critical comments on this manuscript.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering


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