Head of Group, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge
Jim Haseloff and his lab pioneered the application of Synthetic Biology approaches in plants, including new quantitative imaging techniques, genetic circuits for cell-cell communication, and adoption of lower plant systems for bioengineering.
Synthetic Biology is an emerging field that employs engineering principles for constructing genetic systems. The approach is based on the use of well characterised and reusable components, and numerical models for the design of biological circuits.
The Haseloff lab have constructed a series of tools for controlling gene misexpression and marking specific cells in growing plants. They are building a new generation of genetic circuits that incorporate intercellular communication, and could be used to generate self-organised behaviour at the cellular scale. These could be used to reprogram plant development and morphogenesis.
Professor Haseloff is chair of the University of Cambridge Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative. He is also a member of the leadership group for OpenPlant, a joint initiative between the University of Cambridge, John Innes Centre and the Earlham Institute, funded by the BBSRC and EPSRC as part of the UK Synthetic Biology for Growth programme. OpenPlant are implementing open standards and practices for plant synthetic biology with a network of international collaborators.