OpenPlant: University of Cambridge-John Innes Centre for Synthetic Biology

Lead Research Organisation: John Innes Centre
Department Name: Contracts Office


The OpenPlant Research initiative has been funded with three main aims:

1. to create a hub for interdisciplinary exchange between Cambridge and Norwich, between the fundamental and applied sciences, that will underpin advances in UK agriculture and bioproduction.
2. to establish systems for the open exchange of new plant tools and DNA components that will promote commercial innovation and international scientific exchange.
3. to explore the wider implications of the technology at local and global scales. This will bring together a wide range of engineers, scientists and policy developers to explore new technologies and possible models for sustainable agriculture, bioproduction and land use.

As part of the OpenPlant initiative, we will implement technologies for engineering plants:
• Open DNA registries for sharing information, and join an international web of registries with the first plant specific parts.
• A major new plant chassis for Synthetic Biology, with simple properties for high throughput screening and analysis at the micron scale.
• New DNA parts for the control and quantitative imaging of genetic circuits in plants.
• Techniques for routine genome-scale engineering in plants.
• Software tools with improved performance for automated DNA assembly, modeling of synthetic gene circuits and cellular morphogenesis.

The development of new tools and parts will directly contribute to the engineering of new traits in plants, such as:
• Altered photosynthesis and leaf structure.
• Changes in plant carbohydrate content.
• Engineered pathways for the metabolic engineering of natural products.
• New forms of symbiosis and nitrogen fixation for crop plants.
• Methods for high level production of biomolecules by transient expression


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