Mr David Preston

I completed my Integrated Master’s in genetics at the University of Leeds, where I worked in Jϋrgen Denecke’s lab on synthetic receptors in the plant secretory pathway. In September 2016, I moved to the University Cambridge to start as an OpenPlant graduate student. I will do two lab rotations before completing my MPhil project.

For my first rotation, I worked in Jim Haseloff’s lab, which is developing advanced imaging tools for Marchantia polymorpha. My project involved characterising new enhancer trap lines in Marchantia. These lines will allow the discovery of regulatory elements involved in Marchantia development and aid in mapping enhancer activity onto computational models of the plant.

I spent my second rotation working in Alison Smith’s lab, attempting to import the Astaxanthin synthetic pathway into the chloroplast of the microalgae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Astaxanthin is a valuable terpene which is used both in industry and as a health supplement. Astaxanthin has been produced in several different organisms but not yet in Chlamydomonas, which has great potential for industrial biotechnology.

My primary interests are in making synthetic biology faster and cheaper.

In future, I’d like to work on pathway optimization, rapid discovery and development of standard parts for synthetic biology and laboratory automation.