- Wolfgang Pernice
- Imperial College London
- 18 Courtfield Gardens
- SW5 0PD
- London, UK
- 2nd, BS, Imperial College London, life sciences
I think the major directions we could take the project into are the following:
- Using a micriobial organism as a bio-detector and/or bio-filter. Several ideas were already discussed during the first two brain-storming sessions, with focus on public water-systems or dialysis. The combination of detection and filtering approaches would allow to build uppon the results of previous iGEM teams, such as the camebridge 2009 project. For example a water-filter approach could include a recombinant, bio-film-forming bacterial species which endocytoses, or otherwise sequesters contaminants in water-circuits. The accumulation of target molecules in/on the cell could be used as trigger to induce loss of bio-film attachment so that the "loaded" cell can be filtered out by a secondary, mechanical filter. Additionally, the receptor could be linked to a signalling pathway leading to the synthesis of a visual signal. Key questions here would be: are there contaminants that would suit such a system; can we find a suitable receptor and express it in the target organism; can we ensure the safety of the system (no recombinant organisms introduced into the open circuit). Linked to this area are other variations of filter mechanisms such as for oil or for salts. I think we have a relatively high chance to realize a project in this area; something of potential use could already be created with just modifying one function: detection/binding of extracellular molecules. The more complex desired response pathways are, the more difficult will the realization be.
- Second, a microbial organism could be used for bio-synthesis of a desired substance. In the workshops we discussed a H2 sythesising bacterium. Another idea would be the synthesis of graphene, a new material with extraordinary properties, e.g. and intrinsic breaking strength up to 200x stronger than steel (Lee et al. 2008)and as transistors exceeding the on-off frequence of silicon by approximately 10x (100 GHz) (Bourzac 2010). Graphene consists of a one atom thick plana sheet carbon atoms forming a honeycomb grid. In a 3D complex multiple layers form graphite. The production of graphene has been extremely expensive and has thus limited it's commercial value.
- Interest 3