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Team project description

Biofilms are responsible for billions of dollars in production losses and treatment costs in the industry every year. Biofilm-related problems are major concerns in the food industry where it can cause food spoilage or poisoning, in health industry because of pathogens' persistence and dispersal, or in the oil and water industry where it causes corrosion. Assuming that the environment is already over-saturated with harmful chemical products such as biocides, whose long term health effects remain to be elucidated, there is a great need for novel solutions to reduce detrimental biofilm effects.

Our project presentation Biofilm Killer Lyon...

To reduce the use of biocides, the Lyon-INSA iGEM team aims at engineering bacterial "torpedo" capable to infiltrate and destroy biofilms formed on industrial equipments, pipes or reservoirs. Industrial surfaces will then be protected from further deleterious contamination by either a surfactant coating, or the establishment of a protective biofilm.

Our experimental model consists of Staphylococcus epidermidis as the detrimental biofilm, and Bacillus subtilis as the "Biofilm Killer" agent. Three complementary modules will be constructed to arm our "Biofilm Killer" strain:

  • The first step will be to fit Bacillus subtilis swimmers with both a biocide and a scattering agent. Irrigation of these active substances in the biofilm should be facilitated by the tunneling activity of these swimmers cells.
  • Then, to protect the surface which used to be the biofilm's substrate from next possible bacterial adhesion, we will engineered the conditional production of surfactin, a naturally toxic bio-surfactant produced by B. subtilis and displaying well-known antimicrobial properties.
  • Finally, the conditional establishment of a competitive barrier flora, constituted of B. subtilis in our model, will be achieved by inhibiting the main biofilm repressor abrB gene.

  • Bacillus strains are non-pathogenic, and do not cause equipment degradation by corrosion: their settlement on surfaces represents a biocide-alternative strategy to prevent the formation of new dangerous biofilm. This project provides a potential economy, and environmental friendly solution for the control of unwanted biofilm.

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