The Plant Journal

Cover image for Vol. 87 Issue 1

Special Issue: Synthetic Biology for Basic and Applied Plant Research

July 2016

Volume 87, Issue 1

Pages 1–148

  1. Issue Information

    1. Top of page
    2. Issue Information
    1. Table of Contents (page 1)

      Version of Record online: 2 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12980


    1. Top of page
    2. Issue Information
    1. Synthetic biology for basic and applied plant research (pages 3–4)

      Christoph Benning and Lee Sweetlove

      Version of Record online: 2 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/tpj.13245

    2. Using CRISPR/Cas in three dimensions: towards synthetic plant genomes, transcriptomes and epigenomes (pages 5–15)

      Holger Puchta

      Version of Record online: 11 JAN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/tpj.13100

      Significance Statement

      Genome editing with the bacterial RNA-based CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)/Cas9 system allows simultaneous targeting of multiple different enzyme activities to multiple independent sites in the genome and provides a framework for construction of at least partly synthetic entities at the genome, epigenome and transcriptome levels.

    3. Synthetic biology for production of natural and new-to-nature terpenoids in photosynthetic organisms (pages 16–37)

      Philipp Arendt, Jacob Pollier, Nico Callewaert and Alain Goossens

      Version of Record online: 7 MAR 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/tpj.13138

      Significance Statement

      Terpenoids are the most complex group of specialized metabolites, and many are economically important pharmaceuticals, aromatics and potential next-generation biofuels. This review highlights the utility of photosynthetic organisms as platforms for the heterologous production of novel terpenoid structures, emphasizing how combinatorial biosynthesis and the activation of silent endogenous metabolism can be exploited to produce new-to-nature or tailor-made compounds.

    4. Towards engineering carboxysomes into C3 plants (pages 38–50)

      Maureen R. Hanson, Myat T. Lin, A. Elizabete Carmo-Silva and Martin A.J. Parry

      Version of Record online: 20 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/tpj.13139

      Significance Statement

      Photosynthesis in C3 plants is limited by features of the carbon-fixing enzyme Rubisco, which exhibits a low turnover rate and can also react with O2, leading to photorespiration. In cyanobacteria, bacterial microcompartments known as carboxysomes improve photosynthetic efficiency by concentrating CO2 near Rubisco. Thus transferring the carbon-concentrating mechanism from cyanobacteria to C3 plants is an attractive approach for improving crop photosynthesis. Here we review recent progress in engineering cyanobacterial β-carboxysomes into plant chloroplasts and in replacing C3 plant Rubisco with cyanobacterial Rubisco.

    5. Engineering C4 photosynthesis into C3 chassis in the synthetic biology age (pages 51–65)

      Mara L. Schuler, Otho Mantegazza and Andreas P.M. Weber

      Version of Record online: 18 APR 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/tpj.13155

      Significance Statement

      Photosynthesis in C4 plants is more efficient than in C3 plants. Engineering aspects of C4 photosynthesis into C3 crop plants would enable major breakthroughs in increasing crop productivity. Here we review advances in understanding the molecular basis and evolution of the C4 trait, and discuss genetic tools and engineering approaches to achieve this goal.

    6. Bacterial microcompartments as metabolic modules for plant synthetic biology (pages 66–75)

      C. Raul Gonzalez-Esquer, Sarah E. Newnham and Cheryl A. Kerfeld

      Version of Record online: 20 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/tpj.13166

      Significance Statement

      Bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) are metabolic modules that can be used in bioengineering to address pressing global issues such as food production, fossil fuel alternatives and climate change. In this review we describe progress towards reconfiguring BMCs through synthetic biology, for the development of novel nanoreactors in eukaryotic organisms (i.e. plants).

    7. You have full text access to this OnlineOpen article
      Synthetic redesign of plant lipid metabolism (pages 76–86)

      Richard P. Haslam, Olga Sayanova, Hae Jin Kim, Edgar B. Cahoon and Johnathan A. Napier

      Version of Record online: 20 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/tpj.13172

      Significance Statement

      In this review we advance the oilseed plant Camelina sativa as a useful platform for metabolic engineering of lipids, and propose that a new paradigm of predictive manipulation will exceed progress made thus far with iterative approaches.

    8. Extending the biosynthetic repertoires of cyanobacteria and chloroplasts (pages 87–102)

      Agnieszka Zygadlo Nielsen, Silas Busck Mellor, Konstantinos Vavitsas, Artur Jacek Wlodarczyk, Thiyagarajan Gnanasekaran, Maria Perestrello Ramos H de Jesus, Brian Christopher King, Kamil Bakowski and Poul Erik Jensen

      Version of Record online: 20 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/tpj.13173

      Significance Statement

      Chloroplasts and cyanobacteria are increasingly popular chassis for metabolic engineering using synthetic biology. Photosynthetic reducing power, i.e. reduced ferredoxin, can be used to drive redox-dependent reactions and to redirect carbon precursors into new products, ranging from high-value pharmaceuticals to platform chemicals and fuels.

    9. You have full text access to this OnlineOpen article
      Biotechnology and synthetic biology approaches for metabolic engineering of bioenergy crops (pages 103–117)

      Patrick M. Shih, Yan Liang and Dominique Loqué

      Version of Record online: 20 JUN 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/tpj.13176

      Significance Statement

      Here we review progress in developing synthetic biology tools for plants and their use for metabolic engineering in general and specifically for improving bioenergy traits.

    10. Synthetic strategies for plant signalling studies: molecular toolbox and orthogonal platforms (pages 118–138)

      Justine Braguy and Matias D. Zurbriggen

      Version of Record online: 2 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/tpj.13218

      Significance Statement

      Synthetic biology strategies can potentially revolutionize the study of plant signaling networks. Here we review molecular tools and the use of orthogonal yeast, animal and in vitro platforms for the targeted analysis of signaling components and networks. We anticipate that their implementation will facilitate basic and applied plant research.

    11. Towards programmable plant genetic circuits (pages 139–148)

      June I. Medford and Ashok Prasad

      Version of Record online: 2 AUG 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/tpj.13235

      Significance Statement

      Plant breeding and selection methods have greatly improved agriculture, but are limited to traits found in nature. Here we review how synthetic biology will allow the design of new plant traits with predictable functions, by following computational and digital logic approaches analogous to those that enabled development of today's electronics.