Plant protoplasts in the age of synthetic biology

Ivan Reyna-Llorens, Miquel Ferro-Costa, Steven J Burgess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Protoplasts, which are plant cells with their cell walls removed, have been used for decades in plant research and have been instrumental in genetic transformation and the study of various aspects of plant physiology and genetics. With the advent of synthetic biology, these individualized plant cells are fundamental to accelerate the ‘design–build–test–learn’ cycle, which is relatively slow in plant research. Despite their potential, challenges remain in expanding the use of protoplasts in synthetic biology. The capacity of individual protoplasts to hybridize to form new varieties, and to regenerate from single cells, creating individuals with new features is underexplored. The main objective of this review is to discuss the use of protoplasts in plant synthetic biology and to highlight the challenges to exploiting protoplast technologies in this new ‘age of synthetic biology’.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbererad172
Pages (from-to)3821-3832
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of experimental botany
Issue number13
Early online dateMay 23 2023
StatePublished - Jul 18 2023


  • Cell wall digestion
  • synthetic biology
  • regeneration
  • protoplasts
  • miniaturization
  • genetic transformation
  • genetic circuits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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