Team:British Columbia


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British Columbia -

Synthetic Syntrophy
The field of synthetic biology has seen the development of many biological monocultures capable of performing a wide range of novel functions. In contrast to this current paradigm, microbes have naturally evolved to survive as members of dynamic communities with distributed metabolism. This “divide and conquer” strategy allows the community to perform more complicated metabolic processing than would be possible in single microorganisms while being resilient to environmental changes. Despite very recent proof of concepts in developing model microbial consortia, or synthetic ecology, questions remain as to whether complex metabolic pathways can be engineered in context of microbial populations. The 2012 University of British Columbia iGEM team sets a precedent by engineering a tunable consortium with a distributed 4S desulfurization pathway for increased efficiency in the removal of organosulfurs in heavy oils and bitumen resources.