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Secondary metabolism consists of metabolic pathways and products of metabolism that are not absolutely required for the survival of the plant. Secondary metabolism is responsible for many bioactive compounds used medicinally.
A straightforward approach reveals the full cholesterol biosynthetic pathway in tomato, which is composed of ten enzymatic steps, opening the door for bioengineering of high-value molecules in crops. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that cholesterogenesis evolved from the more ancient phytosterol pathway.
Lignin is a principal component of plant cell walls and was thought to be mostly produced from L-phenylalanine. A new study in Brachypodium demonstrates that in grasses — a major source of food, livestock feed and biofuels — nearly half of the plant's lignin is actually made through fewer steps via l-tyrosine.