12 March 2020

Systematic Tools for Reprogramming Plant Gene Expression in a Simple Model, Marchantia polymorpha.

Sauret-Güeto S, Frangedakis E, Silvestri L, Rebmann M, Tomaselli M, Markel K, Delmans M, West A, Patron NJ, Haseloff J. - ACS Synth. Biology, 2020


We present the OpenPlant toolkit, a set of interlinked resources and techniques to develop Marchantia as testbed for bioengineering in plants. Marchantia is a liverwort, a simple plant with an open form of development that allows direct visualization of gene expression and dynamics of cellular growth in living tissues. We describe new techniques for simple and efficient axenic propagation and maintenance of Marchantia lines with no requirement for glasshouse facilities. Marchantia plants spontaneously produce clonal propagules within a few weeks of regeneration, and lines can be amplified million-fold in a single generation by induction of the sexual phase of growth, crossing, and harvesting of progeny spores. The plant has a simple morphology and genome with reduced gene redundancy, and the dominant phase of its life cycle is haploid, making genetic analysis easier. We have built robust Loop assembly vector systems for nuclear and chloroplast transformation and genome editing. These have provided the basis for building and testing a modular library of standardized DNA elements with highly desirable properties. We have screened transcriptomic data to identify a range of candidate genes, extracted putative promoter sequences, and tested them in vivo to identify new constitutive promoter elements. The resources have been combined into a toolkit for plant bioengineering that is accessible for laboratories without access to traditional facilities for plant biology research. The toolkit is being made available under the terms of the OpenMTA and will facilitate the establishment of common standards and the use of this simple plant as testbed for synthetic biology.

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