TolC Under the Sea

Welcome to WLC-Milwaukee's 2016 iGEM Wiki!

Project Description

In recent decades the issue of coral reef decline has become a global issue; from the coasts of the Florida Keys to the Great Barrier reef in Australia to the Andaman Sea reefs off the coast of India. Some of this decline is due to Serratia marcescens, a gram-negative bacterium that has contributed to the loss of Acropora palmata which is commonly known as Caribbean Elkhorn coral. Bacteriophage therapy, the focus of WLC-Milwaukee, is not a recent innovation but it could be the key to stopping the decline of coral reefs from this pathogen. Building on methods and research done by the 2015 WLC-Milwaukee iGEM team, we are hoping to find bacteriophages that destroy or incapacitate this pathogen using specific bacterial protein receptors. Using Escherichia coli as a surrogate to express Serratia proteins, we can isolate Serratia-specific phages using a simple lab strain of E. coli. Looking ahead, we would like to increase phage specificity for S. marcescens as well as improve phage enrichment techniques that were previously developed.

Summary/Goal of Our Project

Using our new Biobrick parts, along with those that our previous teams have created, this year's team seeks to isolate bacteriophages that will infect pathogenic TolC proteins. Specifically, S. marcescens TolC was of interest to this year's team as it infects coral reefs, causing major destruction. Methods described in our results section were used to screen for these bacteriophages, the goal being to isolate bacteriophages without having to use any pathogenic bacteria in the lab.

Photo credit: USFWS Pacific via / CC BY