Team:Nevada/long term goals


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Long Term Goals

  • To promote the use of plant systems as biosensors.
  • To promote public knowledge concerning genetic engineering and synthetic biology.
  • To develop a library of plant-specific stress-inducible promoters for future iGEM competitions.
  • To address logistical hurdles in utilizing various reporter genes in plant biosensor applications.
  • Investigate potential plant systems for utilization in remote-sensing applications.

Demonstrating that plant systems can be used as biosensors is well and good, but several issues need to be addressed before implementation of plant biosensors can occur:

1. An energy/cost efficient infrastructure for the detection of reporter genes in crop plants must be developed. One of the main problems in using fluorescent proteins as reporters for plant biosensors arises due to autofluorescent properties present in compounds throughout plants cells. Chlorophyll fluorescence has already been used in previous studies to measure temperature stress in plants, so necessary filtering mechanisms must be implemented to discern differences between reporter fluorescence and the natural autofluorescent properties in plants (Chaerle et al.). Therefore, it may be prudent to look into reporter genes other than those that code for fluorescent proteins for implementation in plant biosensors.

2. If a fluorescent or bioluminescent reporter system was to be implemented in crop plants, how exactly will stress-dependent reporter activity be detected? Satellite monitoring is a possibility, but this could potentially only be performed during the night to avoid detection complications due to sunlight (Chaerle et al).

3. Should crop plants be engineered with built-in biosensing capabilities, or should plants other than crop plants be grown in parallel to act as biosensors? It would probably make the most sense to grow the biosensor capable crop species of interest in parallel with the crop to control for any disparities in life cycle length.

4. Once a plant biosensor system has been proven to be useful the system must be deemed as safe by regulatory bodies such as the USDA and FDA.

Chaerle et al. Monitoring and screening plant populations with combined thermal and chlorophyll fluorescence imaging. Journal of Exp Botany., 58: 773-784, 2010.

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