Igem Tec 2016

About our Project

In science, researchers find themselves face to face with a common situation called “you will likely end up doing a research you’d never imagined”. In our particular case, this happened to us more than once.

Our first idea was the measurement of bioluminescence by means of a biosensor but we decided we wanted a bigger challenge. We then thought about the possibility to produce penicillin using fibroblasts. After a lot of research, we discarded this idea because of its complexity. On April 1st, we decided to change our project keeping two of the original ideas but also working with L-DOPA. This new project had the purpose of producing dopamine in fibroblasts and creating a biosensor that could help us quantify the amount of dopamine excreted from the body, in order to detect Parkinson’s disease in an early stage. As the time passed by, we noticed that the measurement of this neurotransmitter was quite difficult because we needed to get dopamine specifically from the central nervous system, but we found out that the dopamine excreted from the body comes along with the dopamine from the peripheral nervous system. We tried to find a solution to this problem by looking for metabolites excreted only by the central nervous system. However, we slowly gave up on this project because we weren’t able to find a way to continue with it. At this point, we didn't knew whether to keep on with this project or to start a new one.

Diagram Explaining our Project

After a brainstorm (in which we decided Laccase was not a good option), we found BBa_I742109, a biobrick extracted from Medicago sativa, related to a metabolic pathway of L-DOPA. At this point we were convinced that we wanted to work in the solution of a local problem and we discovered that alfalfa is one of the main crops of our state. In addition, some team members had already worked with Myxobacteria, and had proved this organism’s ability to inhibit (at least partially) isolated fungus by confronting them. This members shared their experience with this amazing organisms and got the rest of the team interested. We fell in love with Myxobacteria, powerful microorganisms that were isolated from ground of our own state.

By doing more research we found out that there were a lot of cultivations affected by a broad variety of fungus. Chihuahua, being the 2nd biggest producer of alfalfa (a key product to feed cows) as well as a cattle ranching state, suffers the loss of many crops due to phytopatogenic fungus. This way we found the problematic we wanted to attack, and the project Myxobacteria Tec-Chihuahua emerge.

Our Motivation

Environmental issues derive from the development of chemical products that achieve their purposes but can cause damage in long term. Therefore, the need of more specific and eco-friendly solutions arises. Synthetic biology allows us to enhance useful properties on organisms such as bacterias.

Diagram of parts