Michigan State University iGEM 2016
What organisms did we handle?
All organisms that we handled while in the lab can be found here.
What is your chassis organism? Check all species you are genetically modifying in your project.
We are genetically modifying Synechecoccus elongatus PCC 7942. Escherishia coli DH5-Alpha is used during the cloning process.
Do you plan to experiment with any other organisms, besides your chassis? What organisms, and what experiments will you do? Please explain briefly. Please include the names of species/cell lines/strains.
We have also worked with a strain of Escherichia coli, DH5 alpha. This was used during the transformation of genetic material.
How will your project work? Describe the goal of your project: what is your engineered organism supposed to do? Please include specific technical details and names of important parts.
Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 is important and widely used in the biotechological industry. Our goal is to genetically engineer this bacteria to increase its cold tolerance which could allow of improvement to ethanol production, pharmaceuticals, and food industry.
What risks does your project pose at the laboratory stage? What actions are you taking to reduce those risks?
The specific organisms that we are working with are harmless. However, we realize that there are other risks in and around the labs that we work in. These risks include exposure to harmful organisms from the labs around where we are working, potential risks of fire and chemical spills/contact, etc. Our team works hard to keep reduce the risks: we make sure to always be wearing gloves and wash our hands before and after working in the lab; we are also extremely careful when working with fire and chemicals (both together and on their own); no one is ever working by themselves in the lab, there is always at least one other person with them; locations of all spill kits, fire extinguishers/blankets, eye wash stations, and information (i.e. MSDS) is known by all members of the team.
How would your project be used in the real world? Imagine that your project were fully developed into a real product that real people could use. How would people use it? Check all appropriate boxes.
In a factory (Examples: cells that make a flavor chemical for food, cells that make biofuel)
In agriculture/on a farm (Examples: cells that guard against pests, engineered rice plants, cells that promote growth of crop plants)
In the natural environment (Examples: cells that remove pollution from lakes, engineered forest trees that can resist drought)
Other (Examples: bacteria that live on Mars)
Our project could be used for ethanol production, pharmaceuticals, and food industry. We originally came up with the idea when discussing Mars and the below freezing temperatures at night which make growing plants almost impossible.
What risks might your project pose, if it were fully developed into a real product that real people could use? What future work might you do to reduce those risks?
The increased freeze-tolerance of this strain of cyanobacteria could allow a lot of improvement in terms of ethanol production, pharmaceuticals, and food industry. It could further lead to the evolution of this organism, which may change the metabolic regulation.