Plant Synthetic Biology: A Budding Field | AIChE

Plant Synthetic Biology: A Budding Field


Plant synthetic biology has its roots in agriculture — prehistoric farmers first genetically modified crops through the process of selective breeding. Today, plant synthetic biology involves transforming natural plant systems and pathways into new, synthetic systems that can increase the quantity and quality of biological products.

The fields’s chief concern is still improving agriculture, but optimization of photosynthesis is also a popular topic of research. Recently, scientists successfully manipulated this metabolic pathway to improve carbon fixation by plants.

Over the past decade, researchers have also achieved a greater understanding of the functions of promoters and transcription factors in plants and how they can be modified to fit our needs.

However, plants can be difficult to engineer — their genetic components, including their promoter systems, are generally more complex than those of prokaryotic and some eukaryotic organisms. Consequently, synthetic biologists have made more headway in genetically modifying prokaryotic microbes...

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