Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Comment
  • Published:

Molecular farming of antimicrobial peptides

Antimicrobial peptides have the potential to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance; however, their clinical translation remains challenging. Here, we discuss molecular farming as a sustainable approach to antimicrobial peptide production, outlining different platforms to produce antimicrobial peptides using plants and viral vectors.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Antimicrobial peptide production using plant-based platforms.


  1. Hancock, R. E. & Sahl, H. G. Antimicrobial and host-defense peptides as new anti-infective therapeutic strategies. Nat. Biotechnol. 24, 1551–1557.

  2. Chaudhary, S. et al. Efficient in planta production of amidated antimicrobial peptides that are active against drug-resistant ESKAPE pathogens. Nat. Commun. 14, 1464 (2023).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Zeitler, B. et al. Production of a de-novo designed antimicrobial peptide in Nicotiana benthamiana. Plant Mol. Biol. 81, 259–272 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Marillonnet, S., Thoeringer, C., Kandzia, R., Klimyuk, V. & Gleba, Y. Systemic Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transfection of viral replicons for efficient transient expression in plants. Nat. Biotechnol. 23, 718–723 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Sainsbury, F., Thuenemann, E. C. & Lomonossoff, G. P. pEAQ: versatile expression vectors for easy and quick transient expression of heterologous proteins in plants. Plant Biotechnol. J. 7, 682–693 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. O’Keefe, B. R. et al. Engineering soya bean seeds as a scalable platform to produce cyanovirin-N, a non-ARV microbicide against HIV. Plant Biotechnol. J. 13, 884–892 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Lee, S. B., Li, B., Jin, S. & Daniell, H. Expression and characterization of antimicrobial peptides Retrocyclin-101 and Protegrin-1 in chloroplasts to control viral and bacterial infections. Plant Biotechnol. J. 9, 100–115 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Wang, Y. P. et al. Chloroplast-expressed MSI-99 in tobacco improves disease resistance and displays inhibitory effect against rice blast fungus. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 16, 4628–4641 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Nadal, A. et al. Constitutive expression of transgenes encoding derivatives of the synthetic antimicrobial peptide BP100: impact on rice host plant fitness. BMC Plant Biol. 12, 159 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Hashemi, S., Niazi, A., Baghizadeh, A. & Taghizadeh, M. S. Successful use of Nicotiana tabacum hairy roots for the recombinant production of Cecropin A peptide. Biotechnol. Appl. Biochem. 69, 876–886 (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Bardor, M. et al. Immunoreactivity in mammals of two typical plant glyco-epitopes, core alpha(1,3)-fucose and core xylose. Glycobiology 13, 427–434 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


We would like to thank members of the genome engineering and synthetic biology laboratory at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) for insightful discussions.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



M.M.M. conceived the concept and outline for the article; S.C. and M.M.M. wrote the article.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Magdy M. Mahfouz.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chaudhary, S., Mahfouz, M.M. Molecular farming of antimicrobial peptides. Nat Rev Bioeng 2, 3–5 (2024).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing