Team:Missouri Miners/Project


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The growing need for alternative fuel sources has sparked interest and research across many scientific and engineering disciplines. The fledgling field of microbial fuel cell development has previously relied on anaerobic metal reducing organisms such as Geobacter sulfurreduccens. This project sought to isolate genes from the electron shuttling pathway in Geobacter and transform them into the more manageable aerobic Escherichia coli. The Missouri University of Science and Technology iGEM team isolated four outer membrane cytochrome (omc) genes from Geobacter, vital to the extracellular transportation of electrons. The four genes; omcB, omcE, omcS and omcT, were cloned into individual plasmids. The eventual goal is to combine all four genes into one plasmid to transform into E. coli to create an aerobic, electron transporting microbial system.


What exactly is a microbial fuel cell?
A microbial fuel cell is a biological system in which bacterium act to provide a reservoir of free electrons from which an electric gradient can be established. This gradient drives electric current from the anode, through the cool things we want to power, and to the cathode.

What are current research initiatives focused on in this area? How is the S&T iGEM team's approach different?

Process in Detail

Outer membrane cytochrome genes from Geobacter sp. omcB, omcE, omcS, and omcT were first obtained as nonfunctional sequences in plasmids from the iGEM standard registry of parts (parts BBa_K269000 through BBa_K269003).

These genes were each combined to a ribosome binding site (RBS) promoter part BBa_J61100.

Through a series of digestions, ligations, and transformations, three of these functional genes, B, E, and T, were combined to form part BBa_K306000.

In the future, the omcS gene will be added to create a plasmid containing all four omc genes.