Special Current Opinion in Biotechnology issue Issue: Plant Biotechnology

Since most of us will have a few days off this coming week as we welcome in 2020, I’d like to highlight some of the engrossing reviews in this special issue of Current Opinion in Biotechnology, edited by Ralf Reski, Gary Foster & Ed Rybicki.  Several of the articles focus on Molecular Pharming, or the production of high-value medicinal products in plants. Such efforts vaulted into the headlines with the use of ZMapp (a cocktail of plant-made monoclonal antibodies) during the 2014–2016 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. Some of the reviews in this Special Issue focus on products (Molecular farming for therapies and vaccines in Africa; Cancer biologics made in plants), others on strategies for increasing the efficiency or versatility of plants as pharmaceutical producers (Proteases of Nicotiana benthamiana: an emerging battle for molecular farming; Optimizing product quality in molecular farming; Innovation in plant-based transient protein expression for infectious disease prevention and preparedness), and others on the value or optimization of specific types of plants (Green algal hydrocarbon metabolism is an exceptional source of sustainable chemicals; Mosses in biotechnology). There are also useful reviews of progress and policies concerning gene-edited plants. (Summary by Mary Williams) Curr. Opin. Biotech. Feb. 2020.