Recent Posts

Review: Green Bioplastics as part of a circular bioeconomy ($) (TIPS)

I feel guilty about using plastics but it’s hard to break free; they are so integral to a modern lifestyle. However, the problem of plastic pollution is frightening. About 80% of manufactured plastic ends up in landfills or the natural environment. It's appalling to learn that the "Great Pacific Garbage…

Synthetic glycolate metabolism pathways stimulate crop growth and productivity in the field ($) (Science)

Rubisco uses CO2 from the air to carboxylate its substrate RuBP, resulting in an increase in fixed carbon.  However, rubisco can also oxygenate RuBP and this leads to the production of glycolate. Plants must invest energy in recycling this toxic by-product in a process called photorespiration, resulting…

Review: Computational approaches to design and test plant synthetic metabolic pathways (Plant Physiol)

As photosynthetic organisms, plants are desirable and potentially cost-effective chassis for the production of novel compounds, but they are also inherently metabolically complex. Synthetic metabolic pathways can also improve upon nature by making plants more metabolically efficient. Küken and Nikoloski…

Genome-scale fluxome of Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973 using transient 13C-labeling data (Plant Physiol)

Synechococcus elongates UTEX 2973 (also known as Synechococcus 2973) has the fastest doubling time of known cyanobacteria, completely replicating itself in just over two hours. This fast growth rate makes it an interesting platform for industrial applications. Hendry et al set out to understand what…

Opinion: Capsaicinoids: Pungency beyond Capsicum (Trends Plant Sci)

You probably saw this article being discussed in your favorite news channel (in the UK, coverage spanned from the Daily Mail to the Guardian). In an Opinion article, Naves et al. discuss the genetics, biochemistry, ecology and health-benefits of capsaicinoids (the “heat” in chili pepper), and consider…

Colour bio-factories: Towards scale-up production of anthocyanins in plant cell cultures (Metabolic Engineering)

Anthocyanins are common plant pigments that provide dietary benefits, leading to an increase in their use as food coloring agents. However, purifying anthocyanins from current plant sources (such as waste grape skins, red cabbage, and berries) is expensive and creates a variable product. Modifying biosynthetic…

From Golden Rice to aSTARice: Bioengineering astaxanthin biosynthesis in rice endosperm (Molecular Plant)

Zu et al., have successfully harnessed the power of synthetic biology to increase the nutritional content of rice by overexpressing only four synthetic genes in rice endosperm. Here, the authors have created a colorful gradient of carotenoid-enriched rice by expressing two, three, and then four genes…

A synthetic oxygen sensing device for plants

Plants can die from a lack of oxygen (hypoxia), which contributes to the devastating losses caused by flooding. Iacopino et al. set out to develop a more specific method for detecting oxygen levels in plants, based on the mammalian Hypoxia Inducible transcription Factor HIF.  HIF is hydroxylated by…

Plant Synthetic Biology 101

About this seminar: Synthetic biology is an emerging discipline that seeks to apply engineering principles to biology. But what does this actually mean? How does it differ from what has come before? And what challenges are presented by pursuing synthetic biology approaches in plants? In this webinar,…