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EPSRC CDT in Sensor Technologies for a Healthy and Sustainable Future



Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology is an emerging field that employs engineering principles to construct new genetic systems. The approach is based on the use of well characterised and reusable DNA components, and numerical models for the design of biological circuits. The approach shows great potential for the engineering of multicellular systems, and plants are the obvious first target for this type of approach. Plants possess indeterminate and modular body plans, have a wide spectrum of biosynthetic activities, can be genetically manipulated, and are widely used in crop systems for production of biomass, food, polymers, drugs and fuels. We have constructed a series of tools for controlling gene misexpression and marking specific cells in growing plants. We are building a new generation of genetic circuits that incorporate intercellular communication, and could be used to generate self-organised behaviour at the cellular scale. These could be used to reprogram plant development and morphogenesis.

Open plant initiative

BBSRC and EPSRC have funded OpenPlant: a £13.5M research centre for plant synthetic biology, a joint venture between the University of Cambridge and the John Innes Centre and TSL, Norwich. Click here for more details about the initiative.


Other publications: 

A complete list of publications is available on Google Scholar

Head of Synthetic Biology and Reprogramming of Plant Systems Group
Professor Jim  Haseloff