Team:UTDallas

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Enlisting E. Scherichia Holmes: A modular whole-cell biosensor for the detection of environmental pollutants
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'''Welcome to the 2010 UTDallas Team Wiki!'''
 
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==Project Description==
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===Project Abstract===
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Recalcitrant pollutants such as petroleum constituents and nitrates are regularly introduced to the environment through oil spills, natural geological seepage and eutrophication. The UN’s flagship water protection initiative enumerates a host of health risks associated with these chemicals. UT Dallas iGEM addresses the eminent need to mitigate their circulation by developing novel whole-cell biosensors that can detect alkanes, aromatics and nitrates and execute combinatorial logic, feedback and noise-reduction functions inspired by synthetic biology. This work has wide ranging applications requiring a cheap chemical sensor that can dynamically process heterogeneous inputs and express a user-friendly output.
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===Track Selection===
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Top three track choices:
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#Environment
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#Foundational Advance
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#Information Processing
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: The UT Dallas iGEM team wants to improve and expand on existing work with bacterial biosensors. Biosensors have wide-ranging environmental applications, which are at times curtailed by their cost. Bacterial biosensors therefore offer a far more economical alternative to traditional biosensor applications.  
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: We are interested in producing an E. coli biosensor capable of detecting a variety of pollutants that are especially difficult to track and are found in industrialized as well as agrarian communities. To achieve this, we will employ cutting-edge synthetic biology to introduce new and modified BioBricks into E. coli that enable it to clearly report user-friendly outputs (color, fluorescence, etc) in response to these pollutants such as:
 
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::''Paraffins (Alkanes), Naphthalenes (Cycloalkanes) and Aromatics:''  
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:: Paraffins, naphthalenes and aromatics are the three largest fractions of petroleum by mass-percent, and are both persistent pollutants, a quality afforded by a stable molecular configuration. We will introduce BioBricks made from genes encoding alkane-hydroxylating (AH) and aromatics-degrading systems, which will convert the substances into a certain intermediates in a step-wise fashion. The intermediates will then induce an output response in low concentrations, thus mimicking the conditions of a potentially polluted environment. Alternatively, we will design promoters directly inducible by linear, branched, or cycloalkanes and aromatics to prevent induction by intermediates not derived from the alkanes or aromatics themselves. We will then characterize the ability of E. coli to serve as alkane/aromatics biosensor.
 
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::''Nitrates:''
 
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:: Nitrates are a common ingredient in fertilizers, whose use is wide-spread and often excessive and poorly regulated as a result of agricultural malpractice. Nutrient-rich runoff after rainstorms carries large amounts nitrates with it and thus eutrophicates water sources, which can facilitate the onset of freshwater algal blooms along with a host of other environmental problems. They are also present in such sources as sewage, which is often directly dumped into lakes, further damaging the environment. We will, like for the aforementioned contaminants, incorporate a visual output responsive to nitrates into E. coli and later characterize its ability to serve as a nitrate biosensor.
 
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: We foresee that our work will therefore find utility in many important ways—from maintaining pollutant-free water supplies and ecosystems all over the world to mitigating the effects of commercial oil spills such as the recent Deepwater Horizon spill.
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Latest revision as of 02:21, 28 October 2010


Enlisting E. Scherichia Holmes: A modular whole-cell biosensor for the detection of environmental pollutants


Project Abstract

Recalcitrant pollutants such as petroleum constituents and nitrates are regularly introduced to the environment through oil spills, natural geological seepage and eutrophication. The UN’s flagship water protection initiative enumerates a host of health risks associated with these chemicals. UT Dallas iGEM addresses the eminent need to mitigate their circulation by developing novel whole-cell biosensors that can detect alkanes, aromatics and nitrates and execute combinatorial logic, feedback and noise-reduction functions inspired by synthetic biology. This work has wide ranging applications requiring a cheap chemical sensor that can dynamically process heterogeneous inputs and express a user-friendly output.

Track Selection

Top three track choices:

  1. Environment
  2. Foundational Advance
  3. Information Processing