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Plant Metabolic Engineering
Gordon Research Conference

Plant Engineering in the Synthetic Biology Era

Dates

July 9-14, 2017

Location

Waterville Valley
Waterville Valley, NH

Organizers

Chairs:
Andrew D. Hanson & Joseph M. Jez

Vice Chairs:
Maureen McCann & Cathie Martin

Meeting Description

Research in plant metabolism has advanced rapidly since the advent of molecular biology, and has accelerated with the arrival of the omics/big data era. Engineering based on this research has huge potential to contribute to the global bioeconomy by generating green production platforms for feedstocks and fuels, developing new drugs, and improving food quality. However, actual engineering progress – particularly in commercial terms – has been slow and modest. Projects have usually involved inserting just one or a few transgenes of natural origin into a plant genome, selecting integration events, analyzing outcomes, and – in the best cases – rounds of iteration to address remaining constraints. In many other cases, transgenes had no effects, or unexpected/undesired ones.

The design-build-test-learn cycle – the essence of engineering – is poised to turn much faster now that the synthetic biology era is here. Synthetic biology extends the metabolic engineering toolbox by adopting programming concepts such as standardization and modularity, by designing pathways and products that may not exist in nature, and by exploiting computational simulation and DNA writing. Synthetic biology is thus driving a transition to multifaceted engineering of plant metabolism, necessitating an unprecedented level of exchange between multiple academic "silos".

This GRC will therefore bring together leaders from plant and microbial engineering, synthetic biology, and computational biochemistry, as well as funding agencies. The program will: (i) Highlight how synthetic biology can repurpose metabolism; (ii) Present cutting-edge engineering and discovery research from the health and biobased economy sectors; (iii) Consider plants versus microbes as "chassis organisms"; and (iv) Discuss synthetic biology-enabled engineering from industry and government perspectives. Poster sessions will catalyze interaction between junior and senior researchers. Short talks will be selected from poster abstracts. The conference's collegial atmosphere, deep discussion sessions, and informal gatherings will provide a unique forum for cross-disciplinary networking and forge relationships supporting career development.

Related Meeting

This GRC was held in conjunction with the "Plant Metabolic Engineering" Gordon Research Seminar (GRS). Refer to the associated GRS program page for more information.

Contributors

Final Meeting Program

Sunday
2:00 pm - 9:00 pmArrival and Check-in
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 7:40 pmWelcome / Introductory Comments by GRC Site Staff
7:40 pm - 9:30 pmKeynote Session: From Metabolic Engineering to Synthetic Biology – And Back
Discussion Leader: Maureen McCann (Purdue University, USA)
7:40 pm - 7:50 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:50 pm - 8:25 pmMark Stitt (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Germany)
"How Can You Predict Anything When Everything Is in Flux?"
8:25 pm - 8:40 pmDiscussion
8:40 pm - 9:15 pmDominique Loque (Joint BioEnergy Institute, USA)
"Synthetic Biology and Bioengineering to Improve Bioenergy Crops"
9:15 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
Monday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmHow Far Is Metabolism Programmable?
Discussion Leader: Mark Stitt (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Germany)
9:00 am - 9:10 amIntroduction by Discussion Leader
9:10 am - 9:45 amPablo Nikel (The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, Denmark)
"Revisiting the Central Dogma: Lessons Learnt from Environmental Bacteria"
9:45 am - 10:00 amDiscussion
10:00 am - 10:30 amGroup Photo / Coffee Break
10:30 am - 11:05 amArren Bar-Even (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Germany)
"Enhancing Carbon Fixation via Photorespiration Bypass Routes that Do Not Release CO2"
11:05 am - 11:20 amDiscussion
11:20 am - 11:55 amCristiana Dal Molin (University of Queensland, Australia)
"A Decade of Plant Genome-Scale Reconstruction: From Single to Multi-Scale Modeling"
11:55 am - 12:10 pmDiscussion
12:10 pm - 12:30 pmGeneral Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
3:00 pm - 4:00 pmPower Hour
The GRC Power Hour is an optional informal gathering open to all meeting participants. It is designed to help address the challenges women face in science and support the professional growth of women in our communities by providing an open forum for discussion and mentoring.
Organizer: Eleanore Wurtzel (Lehman College, City University of New York, USA)
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmAvoiding Toxicity – Microcompartments and Metabolite Damage-Repair
Discussion Leader: Christoph Benning (Michigan State University, USA)
7:30 pm - 7:40 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:40 pm - 8:15 pmCheryl Kerfeld (Michigan State University / Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA)
"Natural and Designed Bacterial Microcompartments"
8:15 pm - 8:30 pmDiscussion
8:30 pm - 9:05 pmCarole Linster (University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg)
"Damage Is Inevitable and Repair Is Essential – Also in Metabolism"
9:05 pm - 9:20 pmDiscussion
9:20 pm - 9:30 pmGeneral Discussion
Tuesday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmMetabolically Engineered Products in the Marketplace
Discussion Leader: Katrina Cornish (Ohio State University, USA)
9:00 am - 9:10 amIntroduction by Discussion Leader
9:10 am - 9:45 amJonathan (Josh) Cohn (Syngenta, USA)
"Genetic Engineering to Improve Yield Preservation in Maize Under Drought Stress"
9:45 am - 10:00 amDiscussion
10:00 am - 10:30 amCoffee Break
10:30 am - 11:05 amKristi Snell (Yield10 Bioscience, USA)
"Leveraging a Novel Carbon Sink to Investigate the Potential and Limitations of Photosynthesis in Switchgrass"
11:05 am - 11:20 amDiscussion
11:20 am - 11:55 amMichael Sullivan (U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, USDA-ARS, USA)
"Making Caffeic Acid Derivatives in Alfalfa: Challenges to Molecular Approaches for Improving Forage Crops"
11:55 am - 12:10 pmDiscussion
12:10 pm - 12:30 pmGeneral Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmSocietal and Technical Drivers of Government Funding
Discussion Leaders: Andrew Hanson (University of Florida, USA) and Joseph Jez (Washington University in St. Louis, USA)
7:30 pm - 7:40 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:40 pm - 7:50 pmParag Chitnis (National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, USA)
"Metabolic Biochemistry to Synthetic Biology to User-Inspired Science – A NIFA Perspective"
7:50 pm - 7:55 pmDiscussion
7:55 pm - 8:05 pmGail McLean (U.S. Department of Energy, USA)
"Linking Biology and Chemistry – Foundations for Metabolic Engineering"
8:05 pm - 8:10 pmDiscussion
8:10 pm - 8:20 pmCraig Hopp (National Institutes of Health, USA)
"Current Funding Options for Plant Bioengineering at NIH"
8:20 pm - 8:25 pmDiscussion
8:25 pm - 8:35 pmDevaki Bhaya (Carnegie Institution for Science, USA)
"Plant Metabolic Engineering: An NSF Perspective"
8:35 pm - 8:40 pmDiscussion
8:40 pm - 8:50 pmCarrie McMahon (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, USA)
"New Bioengineering Tools - The Regulatory Context"
8:50 pm - 9:10 pmDiscussion
9:10 pm - 9:30 pmGeneral Discussion
Wednesday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmHealth-Related Engineering Targets
Discussion Leader: Joe Chappell (University of Kentucky, USA)
9:00 am - 9:10 amIntroduction by Discussion Leader
9:10 am - 9:45 amPaulina Fuentes Taladriz (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Germany)
"Chloroplasts as Biofactories for the Production of Valuable Isoprenoids"
9:45 am - 10:00 amDiscussion
10:00 am - 10:30 amCoffee Break
10:30 am - 11:05 amTeresa Fitzpatrick (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
"The Road to Rationalizing and Reaching Vitamin B Biofortification: Are We There Yet?"
11:05 am - 11:20 amDiscussion
11:20 am - 11:55 amGuodong Wang (Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China)
"From Hop Glandular Trichomes to Chemical Factory in Yeast"
11:55 am - 12:10 pmDiscussion
12:10 pm - 12:30 pmGeneral Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:00 pm - 7:30 pmBusiness Meeting
Nominations for the Next Vice Chair; Fill in Conference Evaluation Forms; Discuss Future Site and Scheduling Preferences; Election of the Next Vice Chair
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmTowards a Biobased Economy
Discussion Leader: Pamela Hines (Science, AAAS, USA)
7:30 pm - 7:40 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:40 pm - 8:15 pmAndreas Weber (Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf, Germany)
"Synthetic Experimental Evolution Towards C4 Photosynthesis"
8:15 pm - 8:30 pmDiscussion
8:30 pm - 9:05 pmDaniel Ducat (Plant Research Laboratory, Michigan State University, USA)
"Cyanobacteria as Sucrose Factories: Towards Bioindustrial and Synthetic Biology Applications"
9:05 pm - 9:20 pmDiscussion
9:20 pm - 9:30 pmGeneral Discussion
Thursday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmPlants: The Next Chassis Organisms?
Discussion Leader: Xiao-Ya Chen (Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, SIBS, CAS, China)
9:00 am - 9:10 amIntroduction by Discussion Leader
9:10 am - 9:45 amNeal Stewart (University of Tennessee, USA)
"SynPlastome 2.0: Building a Synthetic Chloroplast Genome for Metabolic Engineering in Crops"
9:45 am - 10:00 amDiscussion
10:00 am - 10:30 amCoffee Break
10:30 am - 11:05 amAlison Smith (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom)
"Exploiting Metabolism: How Vitamins Are Good for Algal Biotechnology"
11:05 am - 11:20 amDiscussion
11:20 am - 11:55 amNicola Patron (Earlham Institute, United Kingdom)
"Designing Plants with Custom Functionalities"
11:55 am - 12:10 pmDiscussion
12:10 pm - 12:30 pmGeneral Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 5:30 pmPoster Session
5:30 pm - 7:30 pmYoung Investigator Presentations / Late-Breaking Topics
Discussion Leader: Cathie Martin (John Innes Centre, United Kingdom)
5:30 pm - 5:45 pmSurinder Singh (CSIRO, Australia)
"Designer Plant Oils Through Iterative Metabolic Engineering"
5:45 pm - 5:50 pmDiscussion
5:50 pm - 6:05 pmPatrik Jones (Imperial College London, United Kingdom)
"Synthetic Bypass Pathways to Overcome Native Regulatory Limitations of Metabolic Flux"
6:05 pm - 6:10 pmDiscussion
6:10 pm - 6:25 pmJu Eun Jeon (Stanford University, USA)
"Metabolomics and Transcriptomics Implicate Acetylenic Compounds in Plant-Pathogen Interactions"
6:25 pm - 6:30 pmDiscussion
6:30 pm - 6:45 pmRyan Nett (Iowa State University, USA)
"Elucidation of a Convergent Gibberellin Biosynthetic Pathway in Symbiotic Bacteria"
6:45 pm - 6:50 pmDiscussion
6:50 pm - 7:05 pmCynthia Holland (Washington University in St. Louis, USA)
"Arabidopsis thaliana GH3.7 Acyl Acid Amido Synthetase Is a Chorismate-Cysteine Synthetase"
7:05 pm - 7:10 pmDiscussion
7:10 pm - 7:25 pmJingke Weng (Whitehead Institute, MIT, USA)
"Discovery of New Terpene Biochemistry by Crystalline Sponge Method"
7:25 pm - 7:30 pmDiscussion
8:00 pmDinner
Friday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 amDeparture

Funding for this conference was made possible [in part] by 1 R13 AT09506-01 from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
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