Engineering Metabolism in Nicotiana Species: A Promising Future

Trends Biotechnol. 2021 Sep;39(9):901-913. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2020.11.012. Epub 2020 Dec 17.


Molecular farming intends to use crop plants as biofactories for high value-added compounds following application of a wide range of biotechnological tools. In particular, the conversion of nonfood crops into efficient biofactories is expected to be a strong asset in the development of a sustainable bioeconomy. The 'nonfood' status combined with the high metabolic versatility and the capacity of high-yield cultivation highlight the plant genus Nicotiana as one of the most appropriate 'chassis' for molecular farming. Nicotiana species are a rich source of valuable industrial, active pharmaceutical ingredients and nutritional compounds, synthesized from highly complex biosynthetic networks. Here, we review and discuss approaches currently used to design enriched Nicotiana species for molecular farming using new plant breeding techniques (NPBTs).

Keywords: Nicotiana; genome editing; grafting; metabolic engineering; molecular farming; synthetic biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biotechnology* / methods
  • Biotechnology* / trends
  • Crops, Agricultural / genetics
  • Metabolic Engineering*
  • Tobacco* / genetics