Synthetic chromosomes provide the means to stack transgenes independently of the remainder of the genome. Combining them with haploid breeding could provide the means to transfer many transgenes more easily among varieties of the same species. The epigenetic nature of centromere formation complicates the production of synthetic chromosomes. However, telomere-mediated truncation coupled with the introduction of site-specific recombination cassettes has been used to produce minichromosomes consisting of little more than a centromere. Methods that have been developed to modify genes in vivo could be applied to minichromosomes to improve their utility and to continue to increase their length and genic content. Synthetic chromosomes establish the means to add or subtract multiple transgenes, multigene complexes, or whole biochemical pathways to plants to change their properties for agricultural applications or to use plants as factories for the production of foreign proteins or metabolites.

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A Lecture in Plant Biology: Engineered Minichromosomes in Plants

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Watch a lecture from co-author James A. Birchler on engineered minichromosomes in plants.

  • Article Type: Review Article
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