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Tracking transience: a method for dynamic monitoring of biological events in Arabidopsis thaliana biosensors

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The activation and level of expression of an endogenous, stress-responsive biosensor (bioreporter) can be visualized in real-time and non-destructively using highly accessible equipment (fluorometer). Biosensor output can be linked to computer-controlled systems to enable feedback-based control of a greenhouse environment.

Today’s agriculture requires an ability to precisely and rapidly assess the physiological stress status of plants in order to optimize crop yield. Here we describe the implementation and utility of a detection system based on a simple fluorometer design for real-time, continuous, and non-destructive monitoring of a genetically engineered biosensor plant. We report the responses to heat stress of Arabidopsis thaliana plants expressing a Yellow Fluorescent Protein bioreporter under the control of the DREB2A temperature-sensing promoter. Use of this bioreporter provides the ability to identify transient and steady-state behavior of gene activation in response to stress, and serves as an interface for novel experimental protocols. Models identified through such experiments inform the development of computer-based feedback control systems for the greenhouse environment, based on in situ monitoring of mature plants. More broadly, the work here provides a basis for informing biologists and engineers about the kinetics of bioreporter constructs, and also about ways in which other fluorescent protein constructs could be integrated into automated control systems.

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This work was supported by funding from KAUST (93271) and the National Science Foundation (MCB-313546).

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Correspondence to Lewis Feldman.

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G. Hines and C. Modavi contributed equally.

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Hines, G., Modavi, C., Jiang, K. et al. Tracking transience: a method for dynamic monitoring of biological events in Arabidopsis thaliana biosensors. Planta 242, 1251–1261 (2015).

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