Gene Synthesis Accelerates Plant Biology Research
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Plant Biology Research Applications for Gene Synthesis

Gene synthesis is widely used in plant biology and agricultural research studies, from understanding plant signaling pathways to understanding and protecting endangered species and ecosystems. Plant biology research findings have critical applications, including the discovery of natural products with pharmaceutical or industrial uses, as well as creating new strains of food crops to overcome challenges in food security and global nutrition. Hundreds of papers in the field of Plant Biology cite GenScript services and products in their methods sections, including dozens of papers in Plant Physiology, the journal of the ASPB.

Featured Plant Biology Publications

Plant Biology Research News Highlights

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Scorpion Peptide keeps pests off rice crops

Codon-optimized gene synthesis can promote the efficient expression of transgenes in plants for both basic and applied research. For example, a Dec 2014 paper in Plant Science reports that rice plants' natural defenses against pests can gain a boost from a scorpion peptide to keep leafroller pests at bay. This study used codon-optimized gene synthesis services from GenScript to express the scorpion peptide gene LqhIT2 in rice plants in order to study how it affected the plant and its lepidopteran pests in both the lab and the field. In addition to direct species-selective toxicity, LqhIT2 boosted jasmonate-mediated phenylpropanoid biosynthesis in the rice plants, which produces lignin and flavonoids that are critical components in plant defense. This finding could lead to the development of new rice varieties that produce greater yields when grown without chemical pesticides.

Tianpei et al. Scorpion peptide LqhIT2 activates phenylpropanoid pathways via jasmonate to increase rice resistance to rice leafrollers. Plant Sci. 2014 Dec (1-11); 2014-12. Read Free Full Text

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Making photosynthesis more efficient

Photosynthesis is such a fundamentally important process that you might think plants are highly efficient at it. However, scientists working to improve crop yields have noticed that one enzyme, Rubisco, represents a weak link in the photosynthetic pathway due to its poor oxygenase activity and slow turnover. A recent paper in Nature reports that plants can be engineered to use a better Rubisco enzyme from cyanobacteria, which increases carbon fixation rates. Tobacco plans whose native Rubisco gene was completely knocked out were able to grow by using transgenic cyanobacterial Rubisco, which successfully assembled into active enzyme to support autotrophic photosynthesis. The next step will be to introduce the remaining components of the cyanobacterial CO2 concentrating mechanism, including inorganic carbon transporters and carboxysome shell proteins, to recapitulate a complete and functional CCM in plants. If this strategy is successful in increasing total photosynthesis rates and thus improving crop yields, it could be a major breakthrough for sustainable farming and global food security.

Lin MT, Occhialini A, Andralojc PJ, Parry MA, Hanson MR. A faster Rubisco with potential to increase photosynthesis in crops. Nature. 2014 Sep 25;513(7519):547-50. Read Free Full Text

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Using CRISPR genome editing in plants

Plant biologists are increasingly turning to CRISPR-mediated genome editing to create new varieties of crop plants with better nutritional content, pest resistance, drought resistance, and higher per-acre yields. CRISPR is highly efficient method of genetic engineering with very low risk of off-target effects that is compatible with widely-used methods for creating transgenic strains through agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Unlike traditional methods for creating genetically modified organisms (GMOs), CRISPR technology does not leave a “transgenic” footprint if the Cas9 and gRNA constructs are transiently expressed or are backcrossed out. Therefore there are hopes that new plant strains created using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology may escape being labeled as GM strains which may increase their acceptance as food crops.

GenScript offers free gRNA design services with our GenCRISPR gRNA constructs service. Recent publications that cite GenScript for generating gRNA constructs for CRISPR genome editing in plants include:

Wang et al. Simultaneous editing of three homoeoalleles in hexaploid bread wheat confers heritable resistance to powdery mildew. Nature Biotechnology 32, 947–951 (2014) Read Free Full Text

Guo et al. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated targeted mutagenesis in Nicotiana tabacum. Plant Mol Biol. 2014 Oct Read Free Full Text

Since the dawn of agriculture first enabled stable human settlements, farmers have sought ways to increase crop yields, protect their plants from pests, and enable crops to thrive even under suboptimal weather and soil conditions. Modern agriculture science has benefitted from both a millennia-old legacy of breeding and modern genetic engineering and seed genome sequencing technologies that allow better strains to developed, identified, and distributed to farmers around the globe.

New findings in basic plant biology are driving innovation to develop targeted interventions that could reduce the widespread use of non-targeted chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, which can be expensive and labor-intensive for farmers and have unintended negative environmental consequences. For example, RNAi-based agricultural interventions can have exquisite specificity of action due to requiring complementarity with endogenous genomes. For example, consider the following ecological relationships: Bees are beneficial to crops through assisting in pollination. A mite that regularly grazes on particular food crops carries a virus that infects and kills bees. Chemical pesticides would kill mites are also toxic to bees. But food crops can be sprayed with RNAi targeted against the virus, which will have no effect on the plant or the mite or the bees directly, but will inhibit the viral genes and thus help the bee population.

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The products and services in this section are for Research Use Only. Not for use in human clinical diagnostics or therapeutics or in vitro diagnostic procedures.