June 22nd, 2012 | Category: Arabidopsis, iGEM, Metabolic engineering, Papers | Leave a comment

Harvard iGEM 2010

The iGEM team from Harvard 2010, and their iGarden have found their way to publication in the Journal of Biological Engineering. Their new paper, “A BioBrick compatible strategy for genetic modification of plants is available as a provisional pdf (Open Access), to be fully formatted soon.

Here is their abstract,

Background

Plant biotechnology can be leveraged to produce food, fuel, medicine, and materials. Standardized methods advocated by the synthetic biology community can accelerate the plant design cycle, ultimately making plant engineering more widely accessible to bioengineers who can contribute diverse creative input to the design process.

Our work is intended to encourage future iGEM teams and other synthetic biologists to use plants as a genetic chassis. Our workflow simplifies the use of standardized parts in plant systems, allowing the construction and expression of heterologous genes in plants within the timeframe allotted for typical iGEM projects.

Results

This paper presents work done largely by undergraduate students participating in the 2010 International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition. Described here is a framework for engineering the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana with standardized, BioBrick compatible vectors and parts available through the Registry of Standard Biological Parts (www.partsregistry.org). This system was used to engineer a proof-of-concept plant that exogenously expresses the taste-inverting protein miraculin.

Conclusions

Our work is intended to encourage future iGEM teams and other synthetic biologists to use plants as a genetic chassis. Our workflow simplifies the use of standardized parts in plant systems, allowing the construction and expression of heterologous genes in plants within the timeframe allotted for typical iGEM projects

It was a very brave task to take on plants – and certainly it would be a challenge given the short summer time-frame. Developing a genetic fence around the plants was a great idea though, and shows that there are ways to tackle some of the concerns (particularly in the EU) surrounding GMOs. Certainly taking iGEM into the plant kingdom meets with my approval.

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