All the computers and electronics we currently are just a complex arrangement of simple, modular parts that control specific functions; well scientist at Colorado State University are using the same modularity in plants by designing gene that can control specific characteristics—color, size resistance to drought or oxygen production. There is a relatively new interdisciplinary field is synthetic biology, the design of genetic circuits that control different functions and can be easily placed in one organism or the next. Most of today’s synthetic biologist only work with microorganisms like E. coli or yeast due to the speed of reproduction and expression of gene but now they are moving onto more complex organisms.
Using plants comes with another problem for synthetic biologist, the complexity of the organism they are instead altering 100 genes in the plant instead of one or two like in single cell microorganism. They are using protoplasts to alter the plant’s genes.
This experiment could lead to a lot of different uses. First farmers could get grains and plants that are more resistance to drought and by used in area where there are less rainfall. NASA could develop plants can be planted on another planet like Mars and live in the atmosphere unprotected and then years later could produce oxygen on Mars to make it livable to humans. I think the most used application of these techniques with me consumers to buy plants and tree that could be programmed to randomly change colors or scents so that it won’t clash with some rich person’s home décor.