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Metabolic engineering in woody plants: challenges, advances, and opportunities


Woody plant species represent an invaluable reserve of biochemical diversity to which metabolic engineering can be applied to satisfy the need for commodity and specialty chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and renewable energy. Woody plants are particularly promising for this application due to their low input needs, high biomass, and immeasurable ecosystem services. However, existing challenges have hindered their widespread adoption in metabolic engineering efforts, such as long generation times, large and highly heterozygous genomes, and difficulties in transformation and regeneration. Recent advances in omics approaches, systems biology modeling, and plant transformation and regeneration methods provide effective approaches in overcoming these outstanding challenges. Promises brought by developments in this space are steadily opening the door to widespread metabolic engineering of woody plants to meet the global need for a wide range of sustainably sourced chemicals and materials.

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