The team won silver at this year's conference! Thank you for your support in making this happen. We had a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving!
About This Project
We are engineering two E. coli strains to function as tools for the environmental bioremediation of volatile organic compounds. The first biological part is designed to breakdown the pollutant dichloroacetate, and the second biological part is designed to detect and degrade the toxic compound dichloromethane. Our hypothesis is that when our designed biological parts are tested in the wet lab that they will be capable of degrading their respective contaminants.
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What is the context of this research?
Chemical pollution resulting from large-scale industrial practices can result in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the water. One such VOC is DCA, a potential cancer drug naturally produced in low concentrations that is harmful to humans . The second, DCM, is used for industrial applications such as paint removal, chemical processing, and pharmaceutical manufacturing. DCM accumulation in water systems poses a threat to aquatic organisms and is considered carcinogenic to humans. We are designing a biological part in E. coli that can intake DCA or DCM to remove them from the water supply. Our biological designs work in theory, and this project will test them in the wet lab. If successful, these engineered organisms could be used to clean the water supply.
What is the significance of this project?
Developing technology capable of maintaining clean sources of drinking water is imperative for human survival and environmental preservation. The successful completion of this project will help create an effective method of cleaning important water sources.
What are the goals of the project?
We are developing genetic systems capable of expressing 1) proteins in E. coli capable of degrading DCA and 2) green-fluorescent protein in the presence of DCM. Genes will be cloned into individual plasmids, transformed into E. coli, and tested for protein expression.
We will assess the effectiveness of our DCA bioremediator by exposing it to varying levels of DCA and analyzing its ability to degrade DCA. The DCM biosensor will be tested by exposing the E. coli to DCM and measuring its brightness under different concentrations of DCM.
Ultimately, this project hopes to deliver two organisms that can be used by the scientific community to clean our environment. We will showcase our work at the iGEM Giant Jamboree in October.
Allocation of funds for travel and individual registration are necessary for the team to attend the iGEM conference. The team has received support from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) Tickle College of Engineering, the UTK Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, the UTK Microbiology Department, and the Office of Undergraduate Research at UTK. These funds have been allocated to team registration back in April 2018, towards buying laboratory supplies such as gloves and various chemicals, or towards individual registration of some of the team members.
Funds raised through this campaign will ensure individual conference registration for more team members, as well as lodging for the duration of the conference, where we can share the results of our experimental findings to iGEM teams from around the world. Our team is committed to successful execution of the project and communication of the results.
The brunt of the genetic engineering research has taken place during the summer of 2018. During these months, the team worked to construct our vectors. By August, much of the laboratory work has been completed, but testing expression and functionality of our designed parts remains a challenge. The wiki and website must also be built, and we also start preparing for conference in September.
May 05, 2018
Project starts, lab training starts
May 30, 2018
Lab and software training concluded; Primers and vectors designed
Jun 01, 2018
Begin PCR amplification of Gibson Fragments
Jul 01, 2018
Gibson assembly, transformation into E. Coli host
Aug 01, 2018
Construction completed; Begin testing expression of desired genes
Meet the Team
My name is Garrett Statum, and I am a junior at the University of Tennessee majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Originally a Political Science major, Ichanged my major when I realized I wanted to partake in study of biotechnology. I am also pursuing a minor in Business Administration, further stimulating my interest in the logistics of biotechnology products. Outside of iGEM and classwork, I work as a part-time calculus tutor and enjoy outdoor activities such as trail running and hiking. This is my first year working on the University of Tennessee’s iGEM team, and I am is delighted to be tasked with financial management and fundraising!
My name is Ralph Laurel, and I am a senior in Chemical Engineering with a concentration in Biomolecular Engineering at UT Knoxville. This is my second year participating in UT’s iGEM team, and I'm happy to be here! Last year, I was the outreach coordinator for the team, whereas this year I take on more of an administrative and logistics role. Outside of iGEM, I work as an undergraduate research assistant at the Neal Stewart Lab for the UT Institute of Agriculture. I look forward to another great iGEM experience!
My name is Morgan Street and I am a junior in Chemical Engineering. This is my first year doing iGEM and it has been an amazing experience. I’ve made such good friends and learned so much. I am excited to see this team succeed.
I am Caleb Young, and I am a junior in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UT Knoxville. This is my first year on UT’s iGEM team, and I am doing research in the lab. I believe having hands on experience working with bacteria and laboratory equipment is a great opportunity, and am excited to see where this experience leads.
I am a senior in Chemical Engineering pursuing a second Bachelor’s degree. I earned my first Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry & Cell Biology at the University of Tennessee. I hope to utilize both of my degrees and work on developing novel manufacturing processes in the biotech industry bridging lab work and research with scaling up and manufacturing.
I am a senior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville studying Biochemistry and German. I would like to become a researcher at a Pharma company after, hopefully, obtaining a PhD.
My name is Molly, and I am a senior pursuing a B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. This is my first year working on UT’s iGEM team, but I already feel like I have learned so much. As a part of the wetlab group, I have acquired great research experience both in lab technique and teamwork. I cannot wait to see where our team goes this year at conference and hope to carry all that I have learned from iGEM with me after graduation!
Hey, my name is Rachel Penumadu and I am currently a sophomore in Chemical Engineering. This is my first year participating in iGEM. I am so grateful to be a member of this great team at UTK and proud of the innovative work we are doing to contribute to environmental care. Here’s to new and exciting experiences!
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