We are a team of synthetic biologists that are promoting sustainable use of energy by bringing forward one of nature’s own inventions - electrically active bacteria (exo-electrogens) - and harvesting their energy through microbial fuel cells (MFCs). In collaboration with other universities, we attempted to combine our problem with the issue of plastic pollution to offer a 2-in-1 solution - offering a modelled application for our MFCs that use the degradation byproducts of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic as an energy source for our microbes. Read more about the details of our work, the design of our genetic vectors, see our proposed plastic breakdown model, understand Microbial Fuel Cells or check out our software contribution to iGEM, which has the potential to change the future of sustainable laboratory practice.
The key focus of our work with exo-electrogenic bacteria was to improve their metabolic efficiency through genetic alterations of the pathways indirectly responsible for their exo-electrogenic abilities. Understand the code of safety we followed, our experiments in more detail, learn about the results we obtained from them and find out more about the aspects of our genetic engineering work, how it was done, as well as the basic protocols for iGEM and using MFCs.
LoThe genetic engineering aspect of our work was done through BioBricks, also referred to as parts - vector components in forms of bacterial DNA plasmid sequences that were whether newly synthesised, obtained from the registry kit that iGEM provided us with, or made from combinations of the two. Our collection includes newly improved BioBrick sequences for the components of the Mtr pathway, a membrane bound electron transport chain that allows exo-electrogenic bacteria to ‘generate’ electricity, as well as indirectly involved genetic components that could ultimately modify microbes’ electric abilities.
To promote the issues we are dealing with, as well as the broad range of scientific disciplines involved in synthetic biology, we got involved with our closer community and iGEM to raise awareness of the issues and solutions we know of in the general public - for it is the general public that ultimately decides the fate of our inventions and has the power to make the necessary changes and prevent irreversible damage from happening. See how we got involved.
As a part of the iGEM competition, our team is proudly funded by and based in the Cavendish biosciences department of the University of Westminster. If you want to know more about how our project was coordinated, who supervised us and who we collaborated with, find out under the links below.