Team:University College London/test2




Project Overview

I love the Rathenau Debate!!!

UCL iGEM proposes a synthetic biology approach for the bioremediation of micro-plastic Rathenau Debate pollutants within the marine environment, with emphasis on regions of excessive debris accumulation, such as the North Pacific ‘garbage patch’.

We intend to engineer enhanced adhesive properties in Escherichia coli and Rathenau Debate marine bacteria Roseobacter denitrificans & Oceanibulbus indolifex, of the Roseobacter clade. To alter the composition and dynamics of resultant biofilms for the adhesion of micro-plastic pollutants, with an extended vision of creating mass aggregates, or ‘Plastic Islands’.

Rathenau DebateWe will attempt to demonstrate micro-plastic particle aggregation and several additional genetic components, including plastic degradation, salinity/osmotic Rathenau Debate tolerance in E. coli, bacterial buoyancy and novel active biological containment strategies, for an integrative approach to marine bioremediation.

Biobrick Overview

Module 1: Detection

Our Detection Module will allow our bacteria to detect the presence of plastic. The purpose of this is to control the production of our adhesive – Curli (Module 2) – which binds non-specifically to an extraordinary array of surfaces. By producing adhesive only when plastic is present, we prevent our bacteria binding to non-plastic materials.

Aggregation Module

Curli expression for the aggregation of plastic and production of biofilm BBa_K729003

The Aggregation Module will enable our bacteria to construct islands from smaller plastic fragments. To do so we have decided to transform our bacterium with a circuit to produce an adhesive protein called Curli. As Curlis are non-specific in the surfaces they bind, we also have a module (Module 1) to ensure they are produced only in the presence of plastic

Plastic Degradation

Multi-copper oxidase/Laccase for the degradation of polyethylene and other plastics BBa_K729002

As an alternative to Island Formation Modules (Modules 1 and 2), we are also developing an alternative solution – Degradation of plastic. This will investigate enzymes expressed by numerous organisms that have been demonstrated to degrade plastics.

Buoyancy Module

Temperature dependent buoyancy for localisation of engineered bacteria within the water column BBa_K729000

The Buoyancy Module is key to both the Degradation (Module 4) and the Island Formation systems (Module 1 and 2). Buoyancy is required to position our bacteria in the water column, alongside the plastic fragments, and also to enable them to buoy the plastic aggregates (Module 2).

Salt Tolerance

irrE a global regulator from Deinococcus radiodurans for increased salinity tolerance in E. coli BBa_K729001

A core module for our project is enabling E.coli to tolerate the salt content of the ocean; without this ability E.coli could not survive in a marine environment. Due to the widespread use of E.coli as a chassis for Synthetic Biology this Module is being developed to demonstrate that E.coli, as well as marine bacteria, could be used as the chassis for this project.

Containment Components

UCL iGEM 2012 addresses fundamental barriers to the implementation of traditional biological containment systems.

A novel threefold active biological containment system BBa_K729010, BBa_K729009

As our project suggests the release of genetically modified bacterium into the environment, we feel it is necessary to contain the risk of spreading genetic information by horizontal gene transfer. To do so we are suggesting a trio of protective systems – consisting of two toxin/anti-toxin pairs - Colicin-E3/Colicin Immunity E3 and Holin/Anti-Holin endolysin– and an excreted nuclease.

Nuclease from Staphylococcus aureus for genomic deletion BBa_K7290011