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Rutgers 2012 iGEM Team: Biofuels in Biology

Rutgers 2013 iGEM Team:


The current fossil fuel-dependent economy drives a demand for sustainable energy resources. Although much effort has gone into the production of ethanol, other biofuels, such as butanol, are superior.

Butanol has a higher energy content, is less volatile, and is safer to use than ethanol. To develop strains of bacteria that produce high levels of 1-butanol we have introduced the genes coding for a biochemical pathway from Clostridium acetobutylicum into a mutant E. coli strain that produces a high level of NADH. The combination of these chemical pathways is predicted to increase the level of butanol production.

Our second project, the Bacterial Etch-a-Sketch, features a complex network of gene expression and repression that enables a lawn of bacteria to respond to 470nm light. This task presents many engineering challenges: the bacteria need to be sensitive enough to respond to a laser pulse, yet selective enough to use in ambient lighting.


Biofuels in Bacteria

Bacterial Etch-a-Sketch

Genetically modified biological systems can provide direct industrial approaches to the production of commodity chemicals. The ability to manipulate chemical pathways with the tools of synthetic biology has opened new doors in the renewable energy industry.

This year, the Rutgers iGEM team has engineered a bacterial strain that can produce 1-butanol, a highly efficient biofuel that is able to generate up to 95% the energy produced by the combustion of gasoline.

> Biofuels in Bacteria <



The Etch-a-Sketch project aims to create a lawn of bacteria that can be drawn on with a laser pointer. This seemingly inconsequential task actually presents many interesting engineering challenges.

We have designed a novel genetic switch that we hope will tackle these problems. If our work will serve as a useful model for future projects that require massive signal amplification. In particular, researchers creating biosensors may find our work very helpful.

> Bacterial Etch-a-Sketch <


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