This NSF award by the Biotechnology, Biochemical and Biomass Engineering program supports work to develop low-cost bioreactor systems that will enhance the ability to utilize tissue culture to improve agricultural plant productivity. In addition to the typical paradigm of optimizing the chemical and environmental conditions within the bioreactor, this research seeks to demonstrate the ability to control plant development using transcriptional factors that control the expression of multiple genes. These transcriptional factors will be delivered to the plant tissues using Agrobacterium, a bacteria that has been developed to transiently deliver DNA to cultured plant tissues (developed with previous NSF support; BCS-0003926). The genes associated with plant embryo formation will be identified by examining patterns of gene expression during somatic embryogenesis. The concept of inducing embryo formation will be implemented using Cacao, the source of chocolate, due to its commercial (and social) value. In addition to providing an instructional case study that demonstrates the use of interdisciplinary principles of bioreactor design and molecular biology, the effort will produce thousands of fungal resistant plants that will be distributed to smallholder farmers in South America. In addition, the low-cost bioreactor technology has potential applications to a broad range of food and biomass crops.
|Effective start/end date
|8/15/10 → 7/31/15
- National Science Foundation: $517,308.00