Flavonoids: biosynthesis, biological functions, and biotechnological applications

Front Plant Sci. 2012 Sep 28;3:222. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2012.00222. eCollection 2012.


Flavonoids are widely distributed secondary metabolites with different metabolic functions in plants. The elucidation of the biosynthetic pathways, as well as their regulation by MYB, basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH), and WD40-type transcription factors, has allowed metabolic engineering of plants through the manipulation of the different final products with valuable applications. The present review describes the regulation of flavonoid biosynthesis, as well as the biological functions of flavonoids in plants, such as in defense against UV-B radiation and pathogen infection, nodulation, and pollen fertility. In addition, we discuss different strategies and achievements through the genetic engineering of flavonoid biosynthesis with implication in the industry and the combinatorial biosynthesis in microorganisms by the reconstruction of the pathway to obtain high amounts of specific compounds.

Keywords: combinatorial biosynthesis; defense; flavonoid; genetic engineering; transcription factors.