Preface

Biotechnology has become one of the most promising branches of science in recent years. Plant biotechnology is a rapidly developing field of plant research, and genetic engineering is an important tool in biotechnology. Biotechnology can provide, among other benefits, more nutritious and safer foods, better agronomical traits, and more effective pharmaceuticals or chemicals. Medicinal plants as well as other useful crops have great value for both the nonfood and the food industries. Plants can be used as such, or important metabolites can be isolated from them. Besides primary metabolites, plants produce drugs, pesticides, dyes, flavors, and fragrances. Plant breeding using either conventional or modern breeding methods has improved the quality or the agricultural properties of many crop plants.

Metabolic engineering of plants has shown its potential both in basic research and as a tool of modern plant breeding. Designer crops can already produce valuable enzymes, proteins, and antibodies. In many research laboratories and companies in Europe, the United States, and Japan, much work has been done in studying secondary metabolic pathways by isolating specific genes that regulate the function of some key enzymes. The output of this type of research has been tremendous due to the rapid development of plant molecular biology techniques. Furthermore, the large-scale production of useful plant material or metabolites in bioreactors shows new possibilities in plant biotechnology.

We intend in this book to provide the most up-to-date information on plant biotechnology and transgenic plant production. We review available methodologies for plant cell culture, transformation techniques for crop im provement, and strategies to yield high-value products. In addition, a wide spectrum of various applications of genetically engineered plants is presented. These activities are demonstrated in almost 30 chapters written by the most outstanding scientists in their respective field. We have kept in mind a broad range of readers in both academia and industry. We hope that this book also will be of interest to students of plant biology and biotechnology as well as to more experienced scientists who produce transgenic plants.

Kirsi-Marja Oksman-Caldentey Wolfgang H. Barz

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