We are the CSW Proteens!
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Annually, about 5% to 15% of agricultural produce is lost due to frost. The formation of ice damages plants by rupturing cells and also through dehydration as water molecules are drawn out of the tissue. Current solutions to this problem - such as using heat or covering crops with protective material - are cumbersome, costly, and not fully preventative. Synthetic antifreeze chemicals have not been proven to work. Even if they did, they would be need to be applied repeatedly, at great cost, and may also leave residues in the environment.


The project undertaken by the Cambridge School of Weston (CSW) 2014 iGEM team aims to design a synthetic biology solution to this problem by building upon the work of the 2009 Utah State team that developed a protein secretion mechanism and that of the 2011 Yale team which synthesized an “antifreeze” protein (RiAFP) isolated from a cold-tolerant beetle called Rhagium inquisitor. This is the most potent antifreeze protein so far studied. Our device (Plantifreeze) is designed to mitigate crop damage caused by ice crystal formation on the plant surface. Plantifreeze is a dual plasmid system. Read more about our project.

Follow our work in the lab.

Human Practices

Although it has its roots in the long established discipline of molecular biology, the field of synthetic biology is still in its infancy. Consequently, the overwhelming majority of the public has no awareness of this emerging field. An informal pool of the student body at our own school in the Western suburbs of Boston (ground zero for synthetic biology) confirmed this notion. Consequently, the goal of our Human Practices effort was to enlighten the student body of our secondary school about synthetic biology and to promote interest in synthetic biology and iGEM to younger generations of students.