Revisiting plant metabolic engineering through the lenses of synthetic biology


Genetic and metabolic engineering developed in plant systems has allowedtheir use as platforms for the synthesis of molecules with industrial and medicinal uses. The reconstruction of metabolic pathways and the introduction of novel traits in plants have been facilitated by the adoption of strategies of synthetic (engineering)biology to  modulate gene expression more precisely. Focusing on legume plants, which are characterized by a rich production of bioactive metabolites, the characterization and standardization of genetic parts from legume plants and their assembly into transcriptional units will be discussed. Apart from the advances in exploring novel traits, the aim of  the development of a synbio toolbox in this diverse plant family, is the engineering of plant lines that will be enriched in metabolite precursors of different structures. These optimized plant lines may serve as chassis lines for the customized and optimized production of certain final products. In addition, synthetic genetic biosensors, designed  and tested by exploiting the tools and approaches of syntheticbiology, represent promising solutions to address the spatiotemporal presence of target metabolites in plant systems, a long-standing issue in the understanding of both the production and functional role of bioactive small molecules in the eukaryotic systems.

About the Speaker(s)

speakerKalliope K. Papadopoulouis Professor in Plant Biotechnology at the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology. Her main research interests are (a) in plant secondary metabolism, with emphasis on biosynthetic pathways of triterpenes; manipulation of synthesis in legume model-plants; expression in heterologous systems; biological  activity assays of crude extracts and purified molecules, and (b) In molecular plant-microbe interactions with emphasis on endophytic fungi, symbiotic relationships. She has published in leading journals in the field of plant sciences, and has coordinated and participated in many projects funded by the EU, National Bodies and projects funded  by agro-industries. KP has acted as Deputy Director of the “OMIC-ENGINE” Research Infrastructure on Synthetic Biology in the Agrofood Sector in Greece.

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