Thanks to the support of OpenPlant 4K fund, summer student Nandor Hegyi (University of Aberdeen) and final year undergraduate student Darius Zarrabian (University of Cambridge) received hands-on CRISPR training from Dr Gonzalo Mendoza Ochoa in the lab of Alison Smith (Cambridge).
The OpenPlant-funded project entitled “Site-directed integration of transgenes into the nuclear genome of algae and plants using CRISPR/Cpf1/ssDNA” aimed to solve drawbacks associated with current methods for nuclear transformation, which results in random integration of transgenic DNA. The plan was to firstly develop the method for the green alga and biotech host Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, and then try to adapt this specific method for land plants and compare it with similar methods being developed.
The students quickly learned that research can present unexpected challenges. Nonetheless, they remained determined to tackle the problem! Having achieved half of the tasks of the project, Nandor returned to Aberdeen to continue his degree with the thought “I wish I would have had more time to work on this interesting project”. Darius came to the rescue soon after and, with equal enthusiasm, took up where Nandor left off. He is currently in the final stage of his final year research project and is gathering data that indicate that single-stranded DNA fixes nuclease-induced DNA cuts (via homologous recombination) better than exogenous double-stranded DNA.
Darius’s words “I have really enjoyed making progress with the project and learning about CRISPR, despite the inevitable multitude of 96-well plates I have had to face!” capture both the joy and hard work of scientific research.
We thank again OpenPlant for the support and will be sharing progress in the near future.
By Dr Gonzalo Mendoza (University of Cambridge)