Plants produce a wealth of biologically active compounds, and thus a major impetus for studying plant natural product biosynthesis has been the goal of elucidating and harnessing these metabolic pathways as a means to produce molecules of interest. The field of synthetic biology has opened the door not only to the engineering of new metabolisms into heterologous hosts, but also the designing of novel pathways that are not known to exist in nature. We are interested in expanding the biological repertoire of plant metabolism by taking a “plug-and-play” approach to rationally engineer synthetic pathways for the production of target new-to-nature compounds. As future endeavors in plant metabolic engineering are becoming increasingly complex, more sophisticated methodologies will be required to deliver on such ambitions. We are also developing a suite of plant synthetic biology tools to enable the coordinated expression of multiple transgenes simultaneously in order to ultimately facilitate the introduction of these synthetic pathways into relevant crop species.
Patrick M. Shih, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at UC Davis and the Director of Plant Biosystems Design at the Joint BioEnergy Institute. He received his PhD from UC Berkeley in Plant Biology engineering synthetic carbon fixation pathways and studying the evolution of photosynthesis with Kris Niyogi and Cheryl Kerfeld. Patrick then did a postdoc at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory developing plant synthetic biology tools for complex metabolic engineering efforts. His research is focused on utilizing synthetic biology to expand our understanding of plant metabolism. A basic understanding of the evolution of metabolism will guide novel approaches to engineering metabolic pathways for applications in agriculture, sustainability, human health, and bioenergy.
For details of his research and recent publication, please visit HERE