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Engineering Methods to Produce PHB in the seeds of Camelina

Yield10 PublicationsWe investigated the use of Camelina as a platform for seed-based production of the polymer PHB. Five genetic constructs containing the PHB genes under the control of different combinations of five seed-specific promoters were evaluated for production of polymer in seed plastids using a novel single T1 seed screening method. One construct pMBXS490, containing a combination of the oleosin and glycinin-1 promoters driving the expression of the PHB transgenes, resulted in production of polymer in T1 seeds at levels of up to 15% of the mature seed weight. This PHB level is almost twofold higher than what has previously been reported in a seed.  Our results show that production of high levels of PHB in Camelina oilseeds is feasible with expression of the basic three gene bacterial PHB biosynthetic pathway.

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Snell, K.D., “Breakthroughs in plant-based PHB production: Harnessing nature to heal nature,” Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Plant Genomes, Systems Biology and Engineering, December 7, 2019. View Presentation 

Snell, K.D., “Crop Trait Development: Target selection and validation using the GRAIN platform,” 7th Plant Genomics& Gene Editing Congress, November 5, 2019. View Presentation 

Snell, K.D.; Malik, M.; and Peoples, O., “Breakthroughs in plant based PHB production:  Harnessing Nature to Heal Nature,” 3rd International Conference on Plant Synthetic Biology, AIChE, October 5, 2019. Link to abstractView Presentation 

Snell, K.D., “Identifying genome editing targets: Using metabolism to rationally mine genomics data,” Plant Biology 2019 Conference, the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Plant Biologists, August 5, 2019. View Presentation, View Poster

Snell, K.D., “Exploring Novel Approaches for Gene Selection and Trait Validation in Crops,” 3rd Precision CRISPR & NTB AgBio Congress, June 26, 2019. View Presentation

Chloroplast-Selective Gene Delivery and Expression in planta using Chitosan-Complexed Single Walled Carbon Nanotube Carriers”. Various authors led by Michael Strano of MIT as well as Karen Bohmert-Tatarev and Kristi D. Snell of Yield10 Bioscience; Nature Nanotechnology, March 2019 Vol. 14 No. 3. Link to Article



Skraly, F., Ambavaram, M.M.R., Somleva, M., Malik, M., Tang, J., Peoples, O. and Snell, K.D., “The GRAIN Platform: A unique platform to identify genome editing targets,” 6th Plant Genomics & Gene Editing Congress: USA 2018, October 1-2, 2018.Link to Abstract Link to Poster

Malik, M.R., “Yield10 Bioscience Platform: Technologies for Increasing Seed Yield and Oil Content in Oilseeds,” 26th CAOCS Canadian Lipid and Bioresource Conference, the Canadian section of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, September 10, 2018. Link to Publications

Skraly, F. A., “Transporter manipulation in food crops for increased yield,” Plant Biology 2018 Conference, the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Plant Biologists, July 17, 2018. Link to Presentation

Malik, M.R., Tang, J., Sharma, N., Burkitt, C., Ji, Y., Mykytyshyn M., Bohmert-Tatarev K., Peoples, O. and Snell, K.D., Camelina sativa, an oilseed at the nexus between model crop system and commercial crop,” Plant Cell Reports, June 7, 2018. Link to Abstract

Peoples, P. and Snell K.D., "Technologies for increasing plant yield and oil content: The Yield10 Bioscience Platform," a keynote presentation at Northeast Section of the American Association of Plant Biologists (ASPB) meeting, April 28, 2018. Link to Presentation

Ambavaram, M.M.R., Ali, A., Ryan, K.P., Peoples, O., Snell, K.D., and Somleva, M., “Novel Transcription Factors PvBMY1 and PvBMYY3 increase biomass yield in greenhouse grown switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.),” Plant Science (2018) Link to Abstract

Skraly, F.A., Ambavaram, M.R., Peoples, O., Snell, K.D., “Metabolic engineering to increase crop yield: From concept to execution,” Plant Science (2018). Link to Abstract


Malik, M., Peoples, P. and Snell, K.D., “Technologies for increasing seed yield and oil content in oilseed crops,” CanolaWeek 2017 Conference, December 7, 2017. Link to Presentation

Ambaravam, M.M.R., Ali, A., Ryan, K.P., Ruszczyk, R., Peoples, P., Somleva, M. and Snell, K.D., “Leveraging a novel carbon sink to investigate the potential and limitations of C4 photosynthesis in the C4 monocot warm season grass switchgrass,” Plant Biology Conference, June 27, 2018 Link to Presentation


Malik, M.R., W. Yang, N. Patterson, J. Tang, R.L. Wellinghoff, M.L. Preuss, C. Burkitt, N. Sharma, Y. Ji, J.M. Jez, O.P. Peoples, J.G. Jaworski, E.B. Cahoon, and K.D. Snell, “Production of high levels of poly-3-hydroxybutyrate in plastids of Camelina sativa seeds.” Plant Biotechnology Journal (2015) 13, 675-688.
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Snell, K.D., Signh, V., Brumbley, S.M. “Production of Novel Biopolymers in Plants: Recent Technological Advances and Future Prospects.” Current Opinion in Biotechnology (2015), 32:68-75.
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McQualter, R.B., Petrasovits, L.A., Gebbie, L.K., Schweitzer, D., Blackman, D.M., Chrysanthopoulos P., Hodson, M.P., Plan, M.R., Riches, J.D., Snell, K.D., Brumbley, S.M., and Nielsen L.K. “The Use of an acetoacetyl-CoA Synthase in place of a B-ketothiolase Enhances poly-3-hydroxybutyrate Production in Sugarcane Mesophyll Cells.” Plant Biotechnology Journal (2014) 1-8.
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McQualter, R.B., Somleva, M.N., Gebbie, L.K., Li, X., Petrasovits, L.A., Snell, K.D., Neilsen, L.K. and Brumbley, S.M. “Factors Affecting Polyhydroxybutyrate Accumulation in Mesophyll Cells of Sugarcane and Switchgrass.” BMC Biotechnology (2014) 14:83.
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Somleva, M.N., Xu C.A., Ryan, K.P., Thilmony, R., Peoples, O., Snell, K.D. and Thomson, J. “Transgene Autoexcision in Switchgrass Pollen Mediated by the Bxb1 Recombinase.” BMC Biotechnology (2014) 14:79.
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Mullen, C. A., Boateng, A. A., Schweitzer, D., Sparks, K., and Snell, K. “Mild Pyrolysis of P3HB/Switchgrass Blends for the Production of Bio-oil Enriched with Crotonic Acid.” Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, (2014) 107, 40-45.
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Somleva, M.N., Peoples, O.P., and Snell, K.D., "PHA Bioplastics, Biochemicals, and Energy from Crops." Plant Biotechnology Journal (2013), pp. 1-20.

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Petrasovits, L.A., Zhao, L., McQualter, R.B., Snell, K.D., Somleva, M.N., Patterson, N.A., Nielsen, L.K. and Brumbley, S.M., “Enhanced polyhydroxybutyrate production in transgenic sugarcane.” Plant Biotechnology Journal (2012), 10,  pp. 569-578.

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Bohmert-Tatarev, K., McAvoy, S., Daughtry, S., Peoples, O.P., and Snell, K.D., "High levels of bioplastic are produced in fertile transplastomic tobacco plants engineered with a synthetic operon for production of polyhydroxybutyrate." Plant Physiology (2011), 155(4), pp. 1690-1708.
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Snell, K.D., and Peoples, O.P., “PHA bioplastic: A value-added coproduct for biomass biorefineries.”  Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining (2009) 3, pp. 456-467.

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Somleva, M.N., Snell, K.D., Beaulieu, J.J., Peoples, O.P., Garrison, B.R., and Patterson, N.A., "Production of polyhydroxybutyrate in switchgrass,a value-added co-product in an important lignocellulosic biomass crop." Plant Biotechnology Journal (2008) 6, pp. 663–678.

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Kourtz, L., Dillon, K., Daughtry, S., Peoples, O.P., and Snell, K.D., “Chemically inducible expression of the PHB biosynthetic pathway in Arabidopsi.” Transgenic Research, Springer (Netherlands), pp. 759-769.

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Kourtz, L., Dillon, K., Daughtry, S., Madison, L.L., Peoples, O.P., and Snell, K.D., "A Novel Thiolase-Reductase Gene Fusion Promotes the Production of Polyhydroxybutyrate in Arabidopsis." Plant Biotechnology Journal (2005), pp. 435-447.

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Bohmert, K., Peoples, O. P., and Snell, K. D., “Metabolic Engineering: Plastids as Bioreactors.” In Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of Plant Organelles, H. Daniell and C. D. Chase , Kluwer Academic Publishers (Netherlands), 2004: pp. 559-585.

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Skraly, F., "Bioplastics." In Encyclopedia of Environmental Microbiology (2002), J. Wiley & Sons.

Snell, K.D. and Peoples, O.P., "Polyhydroxyalkanoate Polymers and Their Production in Transgenic Plants." Metabolic Engineering (2002), 4, pp. 29-40.

Martin, D.P., Williams, S.F., and Skraly, F.A., "Polymers Biosynthesized by Microorganisms: Polyhydroxyalkanoates." In Methods of Tissue Engineering (2002), 48, Academic Press.

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