Saving the Baltimore Inner Harbor
Is E. coli the answer?
Human Practices: Silver
Ethical Concerns and Applications
The enzymes we are manipulating have many potential uses, including applications in the oceans, streams, and rivers that make up nearly 75% of the world’s surface.
Excessive quantities of plastic float in these waterways, causing the death of numerous marine organisms and damaging the fragile ecosystem, as well as other environmental and health risks. Our specified enzyme could potentially break down this plastic and rid these ecosystems of pollution, saving the oceans from years of perpetual damage.
Despite this, with anything, there are many ethical concerns that people may have. The idea of using E Coli, the bacteria in which we put the enzymes, probably would scare people who are unaware of its minimal health risks to the population (strain K12; benevolent). Synthetic biology is very controversial in itself, as it illuminates whether or not it is ethical to genetically modify organisms for our own benefit.
Additional concerns people may have include the potential for our genetically modified organisms to mutate and instigate problems in Inner Harbor, especially regarding aquatic/human life. Since E. coli procreates so rapidly, these organisms have a more prominent susceptibility for genetic mutations, which is why our future work would include manufacturing a kill switch for these E.coli cells, having them self-destruct at pre-determined conditions.
Our Collaboration with the Broad Run iGem Team
Just prior to the formation of our own Baltimore BioCrew, our team collaborated with the Broad Run iGem from Virginia. Originally, we had worked together to progress their research from the year before; however, because the commute was significantly strenuous for both parties, we mutually decided to set up our own, individual teams.
Before the we started our research on the plastic-degrading Ideonella Sakaiensis, the team collaborated with the Broad Run team by assisting in a multitude of operations.
Since the Broad Run iGem team specialized in yeast cells, vigorous research had to be enacted by all team members to acquire a more refined knowledge-based concerning our research. We assisted the Broad Run team in a multitude of ways in the lab; oftentimes, every member from the Baltimore team would volunteer to work a certain day to focus our efforts on specific wet-lab tasks. By this, our collaboration was cumulative- we would build off of each others knowledge and work together to make a great product!