Engineering plant organelles for food ingredient production

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Life Sciences


Livestock farming has an enormous environmental impact and contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, and deforestation. Demand for animal meat alternatives has grown and will continue to rise, however current alternative systems like fermentation or laboratory cultivation still have a net negative impact on the environment, releasing undesirable by-products. This project employs plant molecular farming, an emerging field that utilises photosynthetic organisms to produce commercial and pharmaceutical proteins and in particular, chloroplast transformation technologies to configure food and meat alternative ingredient production in both plants and algae. Chloroplast transformation technology carries attractive features such as the specific integration of transgenes -either individually or as operons- into the plastid genome through homologous recombination, the potential for high level protein expression based on a prokaryotic gene expression system and environmental containment because of the maternal inheritance of the plastids.

The successful applicant will address these challenges by developing the synthetic biology tools for plastid transformation such as efficient configuration of promoters, UTRs, integration sites, signal peptides and multigene expression cassette for optimal protein expression in both plant and algae systems. Subsequently, the phenotype of the transplastomic plants will be characterised by using biochemical and physiological analysis methods. Furthermore, the downstream processing procedure will be investigated for the successfully expressed protein for further commercialisation. Moreover, the developed tools will be further optimised and applied for crop plants.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022856/1 31/03/2019 29/09/2027
2602606 Studentship EP/S022856/1 03/10/2021 29/09/2025 Alexia Groff