Review: Changing form and function through carotenoids and synthetic biology (Plant Physiol)

Plants produce hundreds of carotenoids with functions ranging from photoprotection to signalling, and with important roles in human health as well. Wurtzel describes opportunities arising from applying the tools of synthetic biology to carotenoids. The regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis is complex, and one key challenge is to identify switches to modulate the flow of intermediates through one or another branch of the biosynthetic pathway. Another challenge is that many carotenoid biosynthetic enzymes are membrane-localized, hence difficult to crystalize for structural determination. She also points to the opportunities provided by our increasing understanding of apocarotenoids (products of carotenoid cleavage, such as ABA and strigolactones), many of which have important signalling roles. (Summary by Mary Williams) Plant Physiol. 10.1104/pp.18.01122