Enabling plant synthetic biology through genome engineering

Trends Biotechnol. 2015 Feb;33(2):120-31. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2014.11.008. Epub 2014 Dec 12.


Synthetic biology seeks to create new biological systems, including user-designed plants and plant cells. These systems can be employed for a variety of purposes, ranging from producing compounds of industrial or therapeutic value, to reducing crop losses by altering cellular responses to pathogens or climate change. To realize the full potential of plant synthetic biology, techniques are required that provide control over the genetic code - enabling targeted modifications to DNA sequences within living plant cells. Such control is now within reach owing to recent advances in the use of sequence-specific nucleases to precisely engineer genomes. We discuss here the enormous potential provided by genome engineering for plant synthetic biology.

Keywords: CRISPR/Cas; TALEN; genome engineering; sequence-specific nuclease; synthetic biology; zinc-finger nuclease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agrobacterium / genetics
  • DNA End-Joining Repair
  • Endonucleases / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Gene Targeting / methods*
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Genome, Plant*
  • Homologous Recombination
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed / methods
  • Nitrogen Fixation / genetics
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Synthetic Biology / methods*
  • Zinc Fingers / genetics


  • Endonucleases