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Department of Plant Sciences

Synthetic Biology is an emerging field that employs engineering principles for constructing genetic systems. The approach is based on the use of well characterised and reusable components, and numerical models for the design of biological circuits.
We have constructed a series of tools for controlling gene misexpression and marking specific cells in growing plants. We are building a new generation of genetic circuits that incorporate intercellular communication, and could be used to generate self-organised behaviour at the cellular scale. These can be used to reprogram plant development and morphogenesis. We have chosen Marchantia polymorpha as a simple model system for understanding and engineering plant growth. This lower plant provides unparalleled benefits in ease of culture, simple genome, haploid genetics, open form of development and rapid growth and regeneration, and is an ideal partner for modern quantitative analytical tools.
More details of our research, people and educational materials can be found at

Synthetic and Engineering Biology initiatives in Cambridge

The laboratory helps to organise a range of Synthetic and Engineering Biology themed initiatives that promote interdisciplinary exchange between Biology, Computer Sciences and Engineering in Cambridge though informal meet-ups, forums, project-based training and shared research projects.


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EngBio IRC
A clearing house for information about synthetic and engineering biology research at the University of Cambridge.

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Research centre to promote open technologies for plant Synthetic Biology

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Project funding for construction of low-cost devices for biology

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Cafe Synthetique
Monthly meeting for networking and building interdisciplinary links

An innovation space for biological engineering located in the historic original MRC-LMB building

icon plantcodeCambridge CODE (Centre for Organismal Design and Engineering) project is a new initiative that brings together biologics, engineers, physicists, mathematicians and computer scientists to tackle the challenge of engineering of growing cellular systems, where advanced biology and artificial intelligence techniques can allow the creation of predictive multi-scale models for living systems, and used to guide genome engineering and redesign of organisms.

Joining the group

Contact Head of Group Professor Jim Haseloff if you're interested in joining the group or finding out more about the group's research.

Tweets by Jim Haseloff