Open Access Highly Accessed Methodology

A BioBrick compatible strategy for genetic modification of plants

Patrick M Boyle1, Devin R Burrill1, Mara C Inniss1, Christina M Agapakis17, Aaron Deardon2, Jonathan G DeWerd2, Michael A Gedeon2, Jacqueline Y Quinn2, Morgan L Paull2, Anugraha M Raman2, Mark R Theilmann2, Lu Wang2, Julia C Winn2, Oliver Medvedik3, Kurt Schellenberg4, Karmella A Haynes18, Alain Viel3, Tamara J Brenner3, George M Church56, Jagesh V Shah1* and Pamela A Silver15*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 02115, USA

2 Harvard College, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 02138, USA

3 Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 02138, USA

4 The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Boston, MA, 02131, USA

5 Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Boston, MA, 02115, USA

6 Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 02115, USA

7 Current Address: Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, 90095, USA

8 Current Address: School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 85287, USA

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Journal of Biological Engineering 2012, 6:8  doi:10.1186/1754-1611-6-8

Published: 20 June 2012

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.

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 (http://www.partsregistry.org webcite). 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.

Keywords:
iGEM; Synthetic biology; Arabidopsis; Plant biotechnology