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Biol Chem. 2005 Sep;386(9):817-31.

Improving the levels of essential amino acids and sulfur metabolites in plants.

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  • 1Department of Plant Sciences, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


Plants represent the major source of food for humans, either directly or indirectly through their use as livestock feeds. Plant foods are not nutritionally balanced because they contain low proportions of a number of essential metabolites, such as vitamins and amino acids, which humans and a significant proportion of their livestock cannot produce on their own. Among the essential amino acids needed in human diets, Lys, Met, Thr and Trp are considered as the most important because they are present in only low levels in plant foods. In the present review, we discuss approaches to improve the levels of the essential amino acids Lys and Met, as well as of sulfur metabolites, in plants using metabolic engineering approaches. We also focus on specific examples for which a deeper understanding of the regulation of metabolic networks in plants is needed for tailor-made improvements of amino acid metabolism with minimal interference in plant growth and productivity.

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