In electronics, even the most advanced computer is just a complex arrangement of simple, modular parts that control specific functions; the same integrated circuit might be found in an iPhone, or in an aircraft. Colorado State University scientists are creating this same modularity in – wait for it – plants, by designing gene “circuits” that control specific plant characteristics – color, size, resistance to drought, you name it.
The relatively new, interdisciplinary field is synthetic biology – the design of genetic circuits, just like in electronics, that control different functions and can be easily placed in one organism or the next. Most of today’s synthetic biologists work with simple microorganisms, like E. coli or yeast.
Tackling plant complexity
A CSU team led by June Medford, professor of biology, and Ashok Prasad, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, is doing the same thing, but in the much more complex biological world of plants.
Traditional plant genetic engineering involves inserting or modifying genes that control certain characteristics. Today’s plant synthetic biologists are taking a different approach.
“We are quantitatively analyzing the gene parts so we can make predictable functions,” Medford said. Using the cell phone analogy, “Apple didn’t go and reinvent a circuit to build the new iPhone; they took an existing circuit and tweaked it,” she said. “Once you have the quantification, and the device physics of the parts characterized, you can use a computer to tell you how to put them together.”
Plants in particular pose a special problem, Prasad added. “Not only is the biology much more complicated than single-celled microorganisms, they are also slow to grow and develop. As a consequence, just testing different genetic circuits becomes a major undertaking.”
Hundreds of circuits at a time
Tackling this problem, they’ve invented a method of characterizing not one or two, but hundreds of genetic circuits at a time that control plant functions. They first had to create a blueprint for part construction – the cell parts that make up the eventual circuits. For the testing, they used protoplasts, which are plant cells whose walls have been removed, so they’re little blobs of cytoplasm.
The researchers’ new method, published in Nature Methods Nov. 16, will pave the way to develop and screen hundreds of genetic circuits, opening the door for rapid new developments in plant synthetic biology.
Protoplasts are delicate, though, so the engineers employed mathematical modeling that accounted for all the special properties of each protoplast. Carrying out intensive data analysis and simulations led them to isolate properties of single protoplasts – a major achievement.
They demonstrated their method with the plant Arabidopsis, with later validation in the food grain species Sorghum bicolor – demonstrating their technique with a commercially relevant species.
The Latest on: Genetic circuits
[google_news title=”” keyword=”Genetic circuits” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Genetic circuits
- For those most at risk, Braidwood suit threatens early cancer detection (Opinion)on March 2, 2024 at 12:00 am
A suit brought by Houston company with Steven Hotze links threatens coverage of critical services such as screenings for lung and colorectal cancer.
- Midland's 27-year mystery gets solved by DNA and driven detectiveon February 29, 2024 at 7:01 pm
The rape of a Midland woman in 1996 was solved 27 years later due to DNA, people's growing interest in ancestry and the work of a sheriff's detective.
- What’s in Vogue for SynBio’s Retooling of Nature’s Code?on February 29, 2024 at 4:00 pm
Back then, while studying the lac operon in Escherichia coli, Francois Jacob and Jacques Monod proposed that cells possessed regulatory circuits that underpinned ... nature figure out how to best use ...
- Autism Genes Link to Sound Sensitivityon February 29, 2024 at 12:36 pm
Researchers are embarking on a pioneering study to uncover how genes associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) converge to affect brain neurons, particularly leading to heightened sound ...
- Photos from Natural Bridge Zoo warrant execution: Trial Day Threeon February 29, 2024 at 1:07 am
The authority to execute the search warrant and pictures of the bird-tortoise-monkey-urine building at the zoo emerged on day three of the Natural Bridge Zoo Circuit Court trial.
- Glial cells are more than our brain’s ‘glue’on February 28, 2024 at 8:46 am
New work in nematodes could help scientists build a more clinically relevant picture of brain organization and function. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center scientists showed how an individual glial cell in ...
- Genetic breakthroughs offer new hope in the battle against frontotemporal dementiaon February 24, 2024 at 3:00 pm
Around 55 million people worldwide suffer from dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. On Feb. 22, 2024, it was revealed that former talk show host Wendy Williams had been diagnosed with frontotemporal ...
- Making associations: Yale-developed tool helps personalize psychiatric careon February 23, 2024 at 1:39 pm
A new generative modeling framework can help neuropsychiatrists better predict the relationship between multiple neural readings and patient symptoms.
- You might have more in common with the sea lamprey than you realizeon February 22, 2024 at 7:30 am
To their surprise, the team found that the sea lamprey core hindbrain circuit is also initiated by retinoic acid. This provides some evidence that these sucky-mouthed sea monsters and humans are much ...
- Case delayed for first suspect charged in 1980 cold caseon February 21, 2024 at 4:39 am
Court proceedings for Douglas Laming's trial have been delayed to April so his codefendant's case can "catch up." St. Clair County Assistant Chief Public Defender Frederick Lepley requested the delay ...
via Bing News