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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 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 25 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
N.L. and T.I. are supported by grants from National Institute of Health (R01GM079712) and Next-Generation BioGreen 21 Program (PJ013386, Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea). We would like to thank Dr. Karen Sarkisyan and Dr. Nadya Markina for kindly sharing the sequences of the FBP genes from their publication.


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