Advances in DNA sequencing and synthesis technologies in the twenty-first century are now making it possible to build large-scale pipelines for engineering plant natural product pathways into heterologous production species using synthetic biology approaches. The ability to decode the chemical potential of plants by sequencing their transcriptomes and/or genomes and to then use this information as an instruction manual to make drugs and other high-value chemicals is opening up new routes to harness the vast chemical diversity of the Plant Kingdom. Here we describe recent progress in methods for pathway discovery, DNA synthesis and assembly, and expression of engineered pathways in heterologous hosts. We also highlight the importance of standardization and the challenges associated with dataset integration in the drive to build a systematic framework for effective harnessing of plant metabolic diversity.
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