Plant synthetic biology tools to transform bioenergy feedstocks
Wednesday, April 30, 2014: 8:30 PM
Grand Ballroom D-E, lobby level (Hilton Clearwater Beach)
Wusheng Liu1, Jonathan Willis2, Yanhui Peng1, Reginald Millwood1, Yi Sang1, Mitra Mazarei3 and Neal Stewart1, (1)Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, (2)University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, (3)Dept. of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Synthetic biology tools are just now being used in plant biotechnology in ways that we believe will eventually impact the fields of agriculture and energy.  Perhaps the most impactful utility of plant synthetic biology will be in how bioenergy feedstocks might be transformed with new functions and efficiencies. After all, there are no genetically engineered dedicated energy feedstock crops yet in commercial production, and we envision one or more new tools facilitating new functions in one or more feedstocks in the future. These tools include synthetic promoters for precise transgene regulation, a novel cell culture system to facilitate the introduction of genome editing tools in the form of TALENs and/or CRISPRs, and gene use restriction technology for bioconfinement of modified genes. Taken together, these tools can be applied to a feedstock such as switchgrass to modify cell walls and plant architecture for higher biofuel yield and biomass in plants that we believe would be deemed “biosafe” by regulatory authorities.  None of these tools are yet fully developed and implemented in any plant species, but early data give us a clearer vision of eventual utility.