Recent Posts

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,…

Update: Engineering of metabolic pathways using synthetic enzyme complexes

By Nicholas Smirnoff, University of Exeter. This article is part of the forthcoming Synthetic Biology focus issue. Plants provide a source of enzymes for metabolic engineering to produce valuable or useful products in micro-organisms or can themselves be engineered (Andre et al., 2016; Vickery et…

Review: Changing form and function through carotenoids and synthetic biology (Plant Physiol)

Plants produce hundreds of carotenoids with functions ranging from photoprotection to signalling, and with important roles in human health as well. Wurtzel describes opportunities arising from applying the tools of synthetic biology to carotenoids. The regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis is complex,…

A rationally designed JAZ subtype-selective agonist of jasmonate perception (Nature Comms.)

Many plant hormones have pleiotropic effects, switching on and off multiple, seemingly unrelated processes. As an example, jasmonates both turn on herbivore defense responses and suppress growth. Takaoka et al. have elegantly separated these, by developing a jasmonate mimic that only activates defences.…

Perspective: The multiplanetary future of plant synthetic biology

The exploration of space is one of the most inspiring areas of scientific research and a major driver of technological innovation. One of the major factors limiting human expansion trough space is the immensely high cost of resupplying resources from Earth. Mars is the closest neighbor to Earth and although…

Paint the tobacco red: Anthocyanin production in tobacco cells lines

Anthocyanins are common plant pigments that provide dietary benefits, causing an increase in their use as a 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…

How to grow crops on Mars if we are to live on the red planet

We can create the right kind of food plants to survive on Mars. Shutterstock/SergeyDV Briardo Llorente, Macquarie University Preparations are already underway for missions that will land humans on Mars in a decade or so. But what would people eat if these missions eventually lead to the permanent…

Review: Applying synthetic biology and genetic engineering to photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is a complex process that has the potential to be greatly improved through human modifications. However, these modifications have been limited by two main factors: the high degree of conservation of the components, and the multiprotein complexes that require specifically modified proteins…