Gold Medal Part Characterization
The characterization of the BioBrick P-atp2 from the BIT-China-2015 team was done to see if P-atp2 could be utilized as a basic pH sensor. The results are found here and on the iGEM Registry page under experience, BBa_K1675021
Kombucha is a beverage made when a symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast ferments sugared tea. Although kombucha has been consumed for thousands of years in the East, the drink has enjoyed a recent surge in popularity.1 Several kombucha breweries operate in Austin, Texas, our team’s hometown. The role microbes play in the production of the beverage has led our team to wonder if synthetic biology could allow us to create “designer kombucha” with enhanced properties, such as more appealing flavors or additional nutrients. In order to do so, our team attempted to isolate the strains responsible for the fermentation of kombucha, identify them, genetically modify them, and add the individual strains into tea media to recreate the drink. We additionally considered potential applications of the ability to genetically modify the microbial population of kombucha, such as reducing the ethanol content of the beverage and improving taste with brazzein, a sweet-tasting protein. In consideration of Human Practices, we reached out to the Austin kombucha community to learn more about what kombucha brewers and consumers would want in a customizable kombucha. Through this interaction, we learned that many kombucha consumers and manufacturers value the traditional, all-natural process of producing the beverage, and that many in the industry would be apprehensive of kombucha made with genetically modified organisms. Though we hope increased public awareness of synthetic biology may someday make a genetically modified kombucha marketable, the current attitudes of kombucha consumers have led us to consider methods of creating designer kombucha that rely only on natural genetic variation.
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