Team:Gaston Day School


Detection of Heavy Metal Contaminants in Water

Despite improvements in water quality, contaminants still interfere with farming in many of the world’s biomes. For 2012 the Gaston Day School iGEM team’s project is to help solve this problem by using the existing registry of parts to create new heavy metal detectors. We have shifted our project from last year’s nitrate detector in order to focus on cadmium, arsenic, and lead contaminants in water. These metals are known to be used in insecticides, fungicides, and fertilizers and are also byproducts of industrial processes such as smelting. If ingested they can cause numerous health problems (more information can be found at the bottom of the page). To detect each metal, we constructed sensors by using multiple promoters to narrow the range of the heavy metals down to one or two contaminants. Then we combined it with GFP reporters to create the new part. GFP was used because our spectrophotometer can accurately measure it.

Once the parts were created, they were tested for accuracy and sensitivity. Many farmers need a way to measure the amount of heavy metals in water to determine whether the levels are dangerous; therefore, each heavy metal detector must be as sensitive as their respective federal limits in water. As the project continues, we plan to test the safety of the engineered bacteria and create survivorship curves as they are released into different environments, similar to last year’s testing. When the final kit is constructed we plan to include the heavy metal detectors and all components necessary to run, accurately measure, and safely dispose of the tests. This kit will help agricultural and environmental fields make improvements in safety.

iGEM 2012 Gaston Day School

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