Distribution of materials

A major goal of the OpenPlant proposal is to develop a two-tier model for genetic engineering in plant systems. While there is still a need to protect the intellectual property of applications with potential commercial applications, we wish to create a family of generic lower-level tools that are largely free of IP constraints, and can be freely shared to promote innovation in plant synthetic biology. While the participating laboratories may have interests in commercially relevant applications, OpenPlant funded work will focus on enabling technology, which will be shared. This layer of enabling tools will consist of:

(i) DNA parts for system assembly, including synthetic promoters, terminators, introns and vectors. Synthetic genes, including refactored selectable markers, fluorescent gene fusions, key metabolic enzymes, transcription regulators and tools for genome editing. Where possible, we will avoid sequences with existing IP claims that would complicate distribution. De novo synthesis of refactored DNA parts will bypass the need for materials transfer agreements.

(ii) All OpenPlant DNAs will be documented and available in standard formats (Genbank/GFF). We are establishing local databases, which will allow public access to the sequences, as well as integrated software for sequence validation and quality control, detailed analysis and automated design of cloning experiments. These databases will be curated by OpenPlant labs, and provide a master record for DNA entries and metadata. Distribution of the physical DNAs will be handled by the Nottingham Arabidopsis Stock Centre, using their well established procedures for international distribution. We expect to develop a long-term relationship with NASC, to explore a prominent new role for UK in international distribution of standardized DNA parts. In addition, we are surveying a number of alternative methods for open distribution of DNAs, which may allow us to extend our means of distribution. For example, DNA2.0 are developing a model for low-cost distribution of IP-free DNA building blocks for synthetic biology, and AddGene is a US-based non-profit company that provides a DNA distribution service. Further Giles Oldroyd is exploring the idea of a shared DNA repository for international Gates Foundation work.

(iii) All OpenPlant funded sequencing data will be distributed via Genbank and other public databases.

(iv) Useful microbial strains will be distributed from the relevant stock centres.

(v) Transgenic plant materials will be made available via stock centres. Arabidopsis strains will be distributed internationally from NASC/ABRC. We are in discussion with NASC about the prospect of using a similar route for Marchantia.

Scientific publication

We will disseminate information by scientific publication. The following routes will be utilized for the broadest possible dissemination of research results:

(i) We will publish results in high quality scientific journals.

(ii) Results will also be published in the form of posters, presentations and papers at technical conferences and annual meetings sponsored by professional societies such as the UK Plant Sciences Federation, American Chemical Society, BioBricks Foundation and Institute of Biological Engineering.

(iii) We will make available detailed specifications of the methods, devices and systems created from the project using Web-accessible repositories. For example, we have established a scientific exchange for information about Marchantia (http://www.marchantia.org), which contains a bibliography, forum and links to resources about research on Marchantia, and development of the plant as a new model system. All projects supported by the OpenPlant Fund will be documented and published online, as a condition of funding.

(iv) We will service requests for genetic materials, including deposition of published materials in stock centres, following institutional guidelines. Data generated by the project will be maintained by the investigators on the project in an archived form after the project finishes for a period of at least ten years in electronic format.