|Content of Enzyme Engineering
While much headway is being made in gene discovery and enzyme engineering
efforts, the use of this basic science knowledge to develop novel crops is somewhat
lagging. This is because plant metabolism is more complicated than previously
assumed, with pathways containing unexpected genetic redundancy in
addition to being under the control of multiple biochemical and genetic regulatory
circuits (Sweetlove and Fernie, 2005). Superimposed on this complexity are
cell biology issues such as the heterogeneity of tissues and developmental programs.
While studies at the whole plant level pose significant challenges in terms
of heterogeneity, stable-isotope metabolic flux analyses have provided new
insight into the role of RuBisCO in carbon fixation in seeds (Schwender et al.,
2004a). Because metabolic flux analysis provides a direct way of measuring the
effects of genetic perturbations on metabolism, it is envisaged that this technique
will become increasingly valuable for interpreting future genetic engineering
efforts (Schwender et al., 2004b).
The application of engineering approaches in the emerging discipline of plant
systems biology, that is, of high-throughput data collection along with direct flux
measurements, computer modeling, and simulation, will undoubtedly provide
the basis for integrating our knowledge and creating engineered crops designed to
meet the increasing needs of mankind.