Chloroplast Vector Systems for Biotechnology Applications

Chloroplasts, the organelles that conduct photosynthesis, are ideal hosts for transgenes. Plastid transformation has been used to introduce desirable agronomic properties like insect and disease resistance, drought and salt tolerance and phytoremediation to crops like cotton, rice, soybean, tomato and potato. A new review published by the journal Plant Physiology highlights the importance of chloroplast transformation system in biotechnology.

Compared to other transformation processes, plastid vectors offer several advantages. These include:

  • Biological containment and lower environmental risk, since the plastid genes are maternally inherited and the transgenes cannot be disseminated by pollen.
  • Ability to accumulate large amount of transgenic proteins, since there can be as much as 10,000 copies of the chloroplast genome in plant cells
  • Gene stacking, which opens the possibility of producing multivalent vaccines in a single transformation step.

The article also focuses on the various components of vectors used for stable protein production in transgenic chloroplasts. The paper is available at


This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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