skip to content

Engineering Biology in Cambridge


Professor Jim Haseloff

Professor of Synthetic Biology

Department of Plant Sciences


Jim Haseloff is a plant biologist working at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge. His scientific interests are focused on the engineering of plant morphogenesis, using microscopy, molecular genetic, computational and synthetic biology techniques. (see
Prior to joining the Department of Plant Sciences, Jim served as group leader at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge and his group developed advanced imaging techniques and modified fluorescent proteins for efficient use in plants. Before this, Jim was a research fellow at Harvard Medical School, working on trans-splicing ribozymes. He has also worked at the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry, Canberra, and developed methods for the design of the first synthetic RNA enzymes with novel substrate specificities.


Jim's laboratory has adopted the non-vascular plant Marchantia polymorpha as a simple
system and tested for bioengineering. Marchantia is characterised by morphological
simplicity, matched by simple underlying genome structure. The ease of culture,
transformation and analysis of the plant make it an ideal system for experiments
reprogramming development and bioproduction. They have developed a battery of
computational, imaging and genetic tools to allow clear visualisation of individual
cells inside living plant tissues, and developed a common syntax and assembly
methods for plant DNA parts that can be used to reprogram metabolism and

Further, he established OpenPlant ( as a hub for exchange of technical
frameworks and frugal technologies for international training and capacity
building. This has led to the establishment of the Biomaker initiative as a means of
bringing accessible engineering tools to biologists, physical scientists and
engineers (





Professor of Synthetic Biology
Department of Plant Sciences
Photo of Prof. Jim Haseloff

Contact Details

Department of Plant Sciences
University of Cambridge
Downing Street
Email address: