In this chapter, we bring together up-to-date information concerning plant cell biotechnology and its applications. Because plants contain many valuable secondary metabolites that are useful as drug sources (pharmaceuticals), natural fungicides and insecticides (agrochemicals), natural food flavorings and coloring agents (nutrition), and natural fragrances and oils (cosmetics), the production of these phytochemicals through plant cell factories is an alternative and concurrent approach to chemical synthesis. It also provides an alternative to extraction of these metabolites from overcollected plant species. While plant cell cultures provide a viable system for the production of these compounds in laboratories, its application in industry is still limited due to frequently low yields of the metabolites of interest or the feasibility of the bioprocess. A number of factors may contribute to the efficiency of plant cells to produce desired compounds. Genetic stability of cell lines, optimization of culture condition, tissue-diverse vs. tissue-specific site-specific localization and biosynthesis of metabolites, organelle targeting, and inducible vs. constitutive expression of specific genes should all be taken into consideration when designing a plant-based production system. The major aims for engineering secondary metabolism in plant cells are to increase the content of desired secondary compounds, to lower the levels of undesirable compounds, and to introduce novel compound production into specific plants. Recent achievements have also been made in altering various metabolic pathways by use of specific genes encoding biosynthetic enzymes or genes that encode regulatory proteins. Gene and metabolic engineering approaches are now being used to successfully achieve highest possible levels of value-added natural products in plant cell cultures. Applications through functional genomics and systems biology make plant cell biotechnology much more straightforward and more attractive than through previous, more traditional approaches.
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