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pSiM24: Simplifying Plant Genetic Engineering

Posted by Mary Gearing on Sep 29, 2015 10:30:00 AM

As previous blogs have noted, plants are an important foundation for life on Earth. Selective breeding methods have shaped the plants that we grow and eat, and genetic engineering will continue to improve plant nutrition, yield, and pest resistance. Much of plant genetic engineering revolves around Agrobacterium tumifaciens. Agrobacterium carries a “tumor-inducing” or Ti plasmid, which allows it to transfer genetic material into the host plant genome. Scientists have worked to optimize this system for gene transfer, studying the stability of modified Ti plasmids during plant infection, as well as plasmid yield during preparation in E. coli. Addgene depositor Indu Maiti has created a new and versatile binary Ti vector for both transient and stable gene expression applications in plants. This smaller, easily customizable vector functions in multiple species, including tobacco and Arabidopsis.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Plant Biology

3 Challenges in Plant Synthetic Biology

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jul 22, 2014 1:46:10 PM

This post was contributed by Nikolai Braun and Keira Havens, co-founders of Revolution Bioengineering. Read their previous blog post about how they started their company here.

The first transgenic plant was engineered over 30 years ago, but plant synthetic biology is still in its infancy. A long timeline from transformation to testing and a lack of well-characterized genetic tools make it challenging to engineer a specific function in these multicellular organisms. However, the rewards are great if you take the plunge – plants are the foundation of life on earth, and opportunities abound to build better fuels, feeds, foods, and fibers. And because working with plants can be challenging, there are a lot of unexplored areas in plant biotechnology that are ripe with opportunity. We’ve decided to jump into one of those unexplored areas with our color-changing flower, but to do that we’ve had to navigate the challenges involved in plant synthetic biology.

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Topics: Synthetic Biology, Plant Biology, Plasmid Kits

Interview: Nicola Patron on Plant Synthetic Biology, MoClo, and More

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Jun 12, 2014 11:30:00 AM

Nicola Patron is Head of Synthetic Biology at the Sainsbury Laboratory, where she often feels more like an engineer than a biologist. Their focus at the lab is on plant-pathogen interactions, and her aim is to produce constructs and edit genomes so as to make plants, and agricultural crops in particular, resistant to disease. They also devise biosensors designed to elucidate the molecular interactions that go on between plants and their pathogens.

As Patron explains it, her work has always been focused on gene transfer, from transgenes to plants, chloroplast to the nucleus, or pathogens to their hosts. I spoke with her about what motivates her research, the MoClo Kit she and Sylvestre Marillonnet share with the scientific community via Addgene, the struggles of plant scientists and how they work to overcome them, and why she spends some of her time engaging with others on Twitter, among other things.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Scientific Sharing, Synthetic Biology, Plant Biology, Plasmid Kits

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