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This invention describes a set of Escherichia coli strains capable of producing naringenin -- an important flavonoid precursor -- using glucose as a source of nutrition. These E. coli cells were modified to express four yeast- and plant-derived genes to produce the enzymes making up the naringenin synthesis pathway. The genetic construct containing these genes was designed with a combination of inducible and constitutive promoters to balance their respective expression levels and maximize naringenin yield. Using these E. coli strains, the inventors have successfully achieved a final naringenin titer of 29 mg/L directly from glucose with no precursor supplementation.