J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2023, Vol. 65 ›› Issue (2): 417-443.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.13330

• Invited Expert Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Making small molecules in plants: A chassis for synthetic biology-based production of plant natural products

Xinyu Liu1, Peijun Zhang1, Qiao Zhao2 and Ancheng C. Huang1*   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Molecular Design for Plant Cell Factory of Guangdong Higher Education Institutes, Department of Biology, School of Life Sciences, SUSTech-PKU Institute of Plant and Food Science, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen 518055, China;
    2. Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology(SIAT), the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenzhen 518055, China
    *Correspondence: Ancheng C. Huang (huangac@sustech.edu.cn)
  • Received:2022-04-29 Accepted:2022-07-18 Online:2022-07-19 Published:2023-02-01

Abstract: Plant natural products have been extensively exploited in food, medicine, flavor, cosmetic, renewable fuel, and other industrial sectors. Synthetic biology has recently emerged as a promising means for the cost-effective and sustainable production of natural products. Compared with engineering microbes for the production of plant natural products, the potential of plants as chassis for producing these compounds is underestimated, largely due to challenges encountered in engineering plants. Knowledge in plant engineering is instrumental for enabling the effective and efficient production of valuable phytochemicals in plants, and also paves the way for a more sustainable future agriculture. In this manuscript, we briefly recap the biosynthesis of plant natural products, focusing primarily on industrially important terpenoids, alkaloids, and phenylpropanoids. We further summarize the plant hosts and strategies that have been used to engineer the production of natural products. The challenges and opportunities of using plant synthetic biology to achieve rapid and scalable production of high-value plant natural products are also discussed.

Key words: biosynthesis, natural products, plant engineering, synthetic biology

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