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Building customizable auto-luminescent luciferase-based reporters in plants

By Arjun Khakhar, Colby Starker, James Chamness, Nayoung Lee, Sydney Stokke, Cecily Wang, Ryan Swanson, Furva Rizvi, Takato Imaizumi, Dan Voytas

Posted 17 Oct 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/809533 (published DOI: 10.7554/eLife.52786)

Bioluminescence is a powerful biological signal that scientists have repurposed to design reporters for gene expression in plants and animals. However, there are some downsides associated with the need to provide a substrate to these reporters, such as its high cost and non-uniform tissue penetration. In this work we reconstitute a fungal bioluminescence pathway (FBP) in planta using an easily composable toolbox of parts. We demonstrate that the FBP can create luminescence across various tissues in a broad range of plants without external substrate addition. We also show how our toolbox can be used to deploy the FBP in planta to build auto-luminescent reporters for the study of gene-expression and hormone fluxes. A low-cost imaging platform for gene expression profiling is also described. These experiments lay the groundwork for the future construction of programmable auto-luminescent plant traits, such as creating light driven plant-pollinator interactions or light emitting plant-based sensors.

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