Team:British Columbia/Project


A Multi-prong Approach to Eliminating Staphylococcus aureus Biofilms Using Recombinant Bacteriophages and Biofilm-Degrading Enzymes

Biofilms are ubiquitious microbial communities often with greater resistance and pathogenicity compared to individual microbes. Biofilms commonly cause complications in industrial and medical settings and represent a significant source of morbidity and mortality. A synthetic biology approach to tackling biofilms has only recently been applied to Escherichia coli biofilms. To eliminate the more clinically relevant Staphylococcus aureus biofilms, our team aims to break new ground at iGEM by using S. aureus as a model host and developing a standard for genetically engineering bacteriophages. Our design incorporates DspB, a biofilm matrix-degrading enzyme into the Փ13 phage genome, which is altered to operate under the regulation of the S. aureus agr quorum sensing pathway and thus upon contact with biofilms. As a complement, we have also developed a mathematical model that simulates the dynamics of our system under different conditions.



A complex structure adhering to surfaces that are regularly in contact with water, consisting of colonies of bacteria and usually other microorganisms such as yeasts, fungi, and protozoa that secrete a mucilaginous protective coating in which they are encased. Biofilms can form on solid or liquid surfaces as well as on soft tissue in living organisms, and are typically resistant to conventional methods of disinfection. Dental plaque, the slimy coating that fouls pipes and tanks, and algal mats on bodies of water are examples of biofilms. While biofilms are generally pathogenic in the body, causing such diseases as cystic fibrosis, they can be used beneficially in treating sewage, industrial waste, and contaminated soil.

A virus that infects and destroys bacterial cells.

Quorum Sensing

A type of decision-making process used by decentralized groups to coordinate behavior. Many species of bacteria use quorum sensing to coordinate their gene expression according to the local density of their population.