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What iGEM is All About

The International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) Competition is an annual undergraduate research competition hosted by MIT. The project aim is to develop Synthetic Biology through the creation of an open registry of parts, or biobricks. Each part in the registry is an analyzed strain of DNA with several specific restriction sites at each end of the fragment. These strains can be anything from promoters to genes, allowing easy assembly and reassembly of these parts into genetic circuits. The [2007 Jamboree] consisted of 54 teams from 19 countries who presented their findings.

Penn State's 2007 iGEM project: Diauxie Elimination

Penn State won a Gold medal in the 2007 iGEM Jamboree! We're proud of our work during the year and our registry submissions.


Increasing energy demands have brought about the need for a renewable, efficient energy source. Using microorganisms to convert biomass to fuel offers a promising alternative to traditional energy sources, but still faces developmental challenges. Microbes such as Escherichia coli have evolved to preferentially metabolize sugars in a process knows as diauxie. Engineering bacteria to eliminate diauxie with the common lignocellulose sugar xylose would allow faster digestion of ordinary plant biomass while simultaneously reducing the costly sugar residues of wild type bacterial digests. Such modified strains of E. coli need to reduce or eliminate glucose’s repression of catabolization proteins necessary to utilize the energy stored in xylose. The effect of such augmentation would be readily assayed with fluorescent proteins placed downstream of xylose regulatory regions.

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