Recent Advances in Plant Biotechnology

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Ara Kirakosyan, Ph.D., D.Sc. is Associate Professor of Biology at Yerevan State University, Armenia and is currently Research Investigator at the University of Michigan Medical School and University of Michigan Integrative Medicine Program (MIM). He received a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology in 1993 and Doctor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Biotechnology in 2007, both from Yerevan State University, Armenia. Dr. Kirakosyan's research on natural products of medicinal value in plants focuses on the molecular mechanism of secondary metabolite biosynthesis in selected medicinal plant models. His primary research interests focus on the uses of plant cell biotechnology to produce enhanced levels of medicinally important, value-added secondary metabolites in intact plants and plant cell cultures. These studies involve metabolic engineering coupled with integration of functional genomics, metabolomics, transcriptomics, and large-scale biochemistry. He carried out postdoctoral research in the Department of Pharmacognosy at Gifu Pharmaceutical University, Gifu, Japan under the supervision of Prof. Kenichiro Inoue. The primary research topic was molecular biology of biosynthesis of several secondary metabolites in plants; particularly this was applied to the sweet triterpene, glycyrrhizin in cell cultures of Glycyrrhiza glabra and dianthrones in Hypericum perforatum. In addition, he took part in several visiting research investigator positions in Germany. First, he was visiting scientist under collaborative grant project DLR, in Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf (project leader Prof. Dr. W.A. Alfermann). The research here concerned a lignan anticancer project, i.e., the production of cytotoxic lignans from Linum (flax). The second involved a carbohydrate-engineering project as a DAAD Fellow in the Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) Gatersleben, under supervision of Prof. Dr. Uwe Sonnewald. His collaboration with US scientists started with theUSDA founded project on plant cell biotechnology for the production of dianthrones in cell/shoot cultures of Hypericum perforatum (St. John's wort). This research has been carried out with Dr. Donna Gibson at USDA Agricultural Research Service, Plant Protection Research Unit, U.S. Plant, Soil, and Nutrition Laboratory, Ithaca, NY, USA. In 2002, he was a Fulbright Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Michigan, Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology in the Laboratory of Prof. Peter Kaufman. Dr. Kirakosyan is principal author of over 50 peer-reviewed research papers in professional journals and several chapters in books dealing with plant biotechnology and molecular biology. He is second author of best-selling book, "Natural Products from Plants", 2nd edition (2006). Ara Kirakosyan is a full member of the Phytochemical Society of Europe and European Federation of Biotechnology. He serves as an Editorial Board Member in The Open Bioactive Compounds Journal, Bentham Science Publishers and as an Editor as part of the Editorial Board of 19 Scientific Domains Journals, Global Science Books (GSB), Isleworth, UK. He has received several awards, fellowships, and research grants from USA, Japan, and the European Union.


Peter B. Kaufman, Ph.D., is a Professor of Biology Emeritus in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) at the University of Michigan and is currently Senior Scientist, University of Michigan Integrative Medicine Program (UMIM). He received his B.Sc. in Plant Science from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. in 1949 and his Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the University of California, Davis in 1954 under the direction of Professor Katherine Esau. He did post-doctoral research as a Muellhaupt Fellow at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. He has been a Visiting Research Scholar at University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada; University of Saskatoon, Saskatoon,

Presents a full overview of plant biotechnology from the history to applications
Plant Biotechnology from Inception to the Present.- Overview of Plant Biotechnology from Its Early Roots to the Present.- The Use of Plant Cell Biotechnology for the Production of Phytochemicals.- Molecular Farming of Antibodies in Plants.- Use of Cyanobacterial Proteins to Engineer New Crops.- Molecular Biology of Secondary Metabolism: Case Study for Glycyrrhiza Plants.- Applications of Plant Biotechnology in Agriculture and Industry.- New Developments in Agricultural and Industrial Plant Biotechnology.- Phytoremediation: The Wave of the Future.- Biotechnology of the Rhizosphere.- Plants as Sources of Energy.- Use of Plant Secondary Metabolites in Medicine and Nutrition.- Interactions of Bioactive Plant Metabolites: Synergism, Antagonism, and Additivity.- The Use of Selected Medicinal Herbs for Chemoprevention and Treatment of Cancer, Parkinson's Disease, Heart Disease, and Depression.- Regulating Phytonutrient Levels in Plants - Toward Modification of Plant Metabolism for Human Health.- Risks and Benefits Associated with Plant Biotechnology.- Risks and Benefits Associated with Genetically Modified (GM) Plants.- Risks Involved in the Use of Herbal Products.- Risks Associated with Overcollection of Medicinal Plants in Natural Habitats.- The Potential of Biofumigants as Alternatives to Methyl Bromide for the Control of Pest Infestation in Grain and Dry Food Products.
Plant biotechnology applies to three major areas of plants and their uses: (1) control of plant growth and development; (2) protection of plants against biotic and abiotic stresses; and (3) expansion of ways by which specialty foods, biochemicals, and pharmaceuticals are produced. The topic of recent advances in plant biotechnology is ripe for consideration because of the rapid developments in this ?eld that have revolutionized our concepts of sustainable food production, cost-effective alt- native energy strategies, environmental bioremediation, and production of pla- derived medicines through plant cell biotechnology. Many of the more traditional approaches to plant biotechnology are woefully out of date and even obsolete. Fresh approaches are therefore required. To this end, we have brought together a group of contributors who address the most recent advances in plant biotechnology and what they mean for human progress, and hopefully, a more sustainable future. Achievements today in plant biotechnology have already surpassed all previous expectations. These are based on promising accomplishments in the last several decades and the fact that plant biotechnology has emerged as an exciting area of research by creating unprecedented opportunities for the manipulation of biological systems. In connection with its recent advances, plant biotechnology now allows for the transfer of a greater variety of genetic information in a more precise, controlled manner. The potential for improving plant productivity and its proper use in agric- ture relies largely on newly developed DNA biotechnology and molecular markers.

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