TRANSGENE SILENCING IN PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS
- Eseverri Sabaté, Álvaro - PhD Student
- Vaca Sanz, Cristina - Technician
Stable and high expression of transgenes is essential for the development of any genetically engineered crop, whether its purpose is to produce pharmaceutical or industrial compounds, increased value grain or a pest resistant variety to produce food, feed, or fiber. The low expression of transgenes and the high variability amongst transgenic lines due to gene silencing is nowadays a big challenge for plant molecular farming, plant synthetic biology and the development of new genetically modified crops.
RNAi pathways are responsible for the silencing of transgenes as a result of the activation of defense mechanisms of the plant evolved to confront invasive nucleic acids such as transposons and viruses.
In our lab, we have basic research projects that aim to address how plants distinguish “self” from “non-self” nucleic acids, what are the signals in transgenes that license the silencing response and how can they be avoided in the generation of new transgenic plants.
We also have applied biotechnology projects since we are part of an initiative led by Prof. Luis Rubio at the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) to investigate the transfer of nitrogen fixation genes to plants. This research program, for which the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded funding of $5 million, aims to obtain cereals with minimum requirements of nitrogen fertilizers that will produce higher and more consistent returns on their crops.
FIGURE: Generation of a tool to search for construct features that promote/avoid gene silencing
- Development of epigenetic markers related to seed germination (EPI-SEED). Programa propio de I+D+i de la UPM. Ayuda dirigida a jóvenes investigadores doctores para fortalecer sus planes de investigación
- BNF-Cereals Phase II (2016-2020). Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
- Silenciamiento génico en aplicaciones de biotecnología vegetal (2015-2017). Programa Estatal de Investigación Científica y Técnica de Excelencia (BIO2014-58789-P).
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