Team:UCL Academy


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The overall aim of our project to reduce or even eradicate the harmful effects of algal blooms. We aim to do this by making a GMO which can degrade Microcystin; a toxin produced by cyanobacteria. Microcystin is not only toxic to the immediate environment, but also to humans, domestic animals, and livestock. These algal blooms are mainly in regions where there is a high concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus in the water. This promotes more algal growth than the ecosystem can handle therefore there is an overpopulation of algae which can increase the concentration of toxins (such as Microcystin) in the water. Cyanobacteria are prokaryotic and due to their genus being very diverse, they’re able to occur in many different types of water such as marine and estuarine water.


How does our project work?

We have found three mlrA gene hmlrA in three different organisms, ''E.coli,'' ''Bacillus subtilis'', and ''Oceanibulbus Indolifex''. Microcystin is very resistant to many common bacterial proteases due to it’s cyclical structure. The mlrA gene codes for an enzyme, also called mlrA, which uses hydrolytic cleaving to make microcystin a linear molecule, and thus less resistant to the bacterial proteases.


Who will our project help?

Our project is aimed to help as many people and industries as possible. It could be used in domestic fish tanks, larger aquarium tanks, water reservoirs, local ponds, the uses are limitless! It’s more appropriate for use in areas in which having extensive filtration systems is not possible, and could possibly even replace the extensive filtration systems used in some places.


Why did we choose this project?

During our initial brainstorming sessions at the beginning of our project, we determined that environmental issues were to be the main focus of our work. After investigating a range of environmental issues, we came to the conclusion that water issues were becoming increasingly difficult to deal with and that it would be a good idea to centre our attention on a common algae problem which does not gain enough attention on a global scale.