Introduction to Metabolic Genetic Engineering for the Production of Valuable Secondary Metabolites in in vivo and in vitro Plant Systems
Vagner A. Benedito and Luzia V. Modolo
Affiliation: Genetics and Developmental Biology Program, Plant and Soil Sciences Division, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA 26506-6108.
Plants are capable of producing a myriad of chemical compounds. While these compounds serve specific functions
in the plant, many have surprising effects on the human body, often with positive action against diseases. These
compounds are often difficult to synthesize ex vivo and require the coordinated and compartmentalized action of enzymes
in living organisms. However, the amounts produced in whole plants are often small and restricted to single tissues of the
plant or even cellular organelles, making their extraction an expensive process. Since most natural products used in therapeutics
are specialized, secondary plant metabolites, we provide here an overview of the classification of the main classes
of these compounds, with its biochemical pathways and how this information can be used to create efficient in and ex
planta production pipelines to generate highly valuable compounds. Metabolic genetic engineering is introduced in light
of physiological and genetic methods to enhance production of high-value plant secondary metabolites.
Keywords: Alkaloid, callus, cell suspension, hairy root, jasmonic acid, phenylpropanoid, promoter, terpenoid, tissue culture,
transcription factor, trichome.
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