Rhizobium are a diverse group of nitrogen-fixing bacteria that can form symbioses with plant roots. Engineering this symbiosis by engineering the rhizobia is a crucial step towards making plants tolerant to harsh environments, whether here on Earth or on Mars.
By implementing Multiplex Genome Engineering in Rhizobium tropici CIAT 899 and Sinorhizobium meliloti 1021, we hope to make these bacteria easier to engineer. Multiplex Genome Engineering could be used to develop rhizobial strains that are more tolerant to perchlorates, that can withstand temperature extremes, and that can supply plants with additional essential nutrients.
"Achieving sustainable agriculture and producing enough food for the increasing global population will require effective strategies to cope with harsh environments such as water and nutrient stress, high temperatures and compacted soils with high impedance that drastically reduce crop yield."
– Damar López-Arredondo, F1000 Research (2015)
Explore a Little More
Mars is great, but the inhospitable conditions make life a challenge. And the Earth is getting more inhospitable every decade. Here's why we need to engineer rhizobia.
Starting from scratch, we determined how to best grow, transform, and select rhizobia in the lab.
Identifying recombinases, testing promoters, quantifying mutagenesis... A lot goes into establishing this high-throughput, locus-specific gene engineering technology in a new organism.
Our method depends on the successful expression of foreign genetic elements in rhizobium for both development and real-world implementation.
We held a synthetic biology workshop at a local public library to hear about our community's hopes and concerns for these technologies.
Terraforming Mars is a team effort. Learn about the people behind the project and the supporters that make our research possible.