Building customizable auto-luminescent luciferase-based reporters in plants

Arjun Khakhar, Colby G. Starker, James C. Chamness, Nayoung Lee, Sydney Stokke, Cecily Wang, Ryan Swanson, Furva Rizvi, Takato Imaizumi, Daniel F. Voytas

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3 Scopus citations


Bioluminescence is a powerful biological signal that scientists have repurposed as a reporter for gene expression in plants and animals. However, there are downsides associated with the need to provide a substrate to these reporters, including its high cost and non-uniform tissue penetration. In this work we reconstitute a fungal bioluminescence pathway (FBP) in planta using a 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 lowcost imaging platform for gene expression profiling is also described. These experiments lay the groundwork for future construction of programmable auto-luminescent plant traits, such as light driven plant-pollinator interactions or light emitting plant-based sensors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere52786
StatePublished - Mar 2020

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  • Journal Article

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    Khakhar, A., Starker, C. G., Chamness, J. C., Lee, N., Stokke, S., Wang, C., Swanson, R., Rizvi, F., Imaizumi, T., & Voytas, D. F. (2020). Building customizable auto-luminescent luciferase-based reporters in plants. eLife, 9, [e52786].