Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 76, Issue 3–5, pp 211–220 | Cite as

Plastid biotechnology for crop production: present status and future perspectives



The world population is expected to reach an estimated 9.2 billion by 2050. Therefore, food production globally has to increase by 70% in order to feed the world, while total arable land, which has reached its maximal utilization, may even decrease. Moreover, climate change adds yet another challenge to global food security. In order to feed the world in 2050, biotechnological advances in modern agriculture are essential. Plant genetic engineering, which has created a new wave of global crop production after the first green revolution, will continue to play an important role in modern agriculture to meet these challenges. Plastid genetic engineering, with several unique advantages including transgene containment, has made significant progress in the last two decades in various biotechnology applications including development of crops with high levels of resistance to insects, bacterial, fungal and viral diseases, different types of herbicides, drought, salt and cold tolerance, cytoplasmic male sterility, metabolic engineering, phytoremediation of toxic metals and production of many vaccine antigens, biopharmaceuticals and biofuels. However, useful traits should be engineered via chloroplast genomes of several major crops. This review provides insight into the current state of the art of plastid engineering in relation to agricultural production, especially for engineering agronomic traits. Understanding the bottleneck of this technology and challenges for improvement of major crops in a changing climate are discussed.


Plastid engineering Food security Climate change Cereal crops Chloroplast genome 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Plant Health and Protection DivisionBioforsk- Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental ResearchAasNorway
  2. 2.Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, College of MedicineUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

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