Team:CIDEB-UANL Mexico/project abstract


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Revision as of 02:51, 15 June 2014

iGEM CIDEB 2014 - Project


Since always, water has been known as a source for life. We cannot survive without water. Although useful water is a necessity which must be satisfied for everyone, nowadays in certain countries there are no enough water supplies for people. The global lack of abundance of usable water is an issue that presents a dangerous problem to our future. Ironically, only a small portion of our planet's water is actually usable. Ninety-seven percent of the world's water is too salty for consumption or agricultural use. Furthermore, much of the rest is held in ice caps or other unattainable sources. This leaves approximately one percent of the global water as liquid and fresh; ninety-eight percent of which is groundwater(Bouwer, 2002).

In fact, for solving this problem have been developed different methods. One of them is desalination, converting sea water (rich in salts) into usable water; but this method is very expensive by the great use of electrical energy, and the extraction process produces wastes dangerous for the environment (Cotruvo, 2010).

For that reason our project is focused on developing a biological machine capable of performing desalination, reducing costs and avoiding dangerous wastes during the process. For making this possible, E. coli must survive in saline environments, able to capture salts, and be removed from the water after the process. In order to achieve the objective we designed a biological circuit in which E. coli could be able to resist adverse conditions though a protein called IrrE, capture Na+ ions (this because sodium chloride is the main salt of sea water) by NhaS production releasing an aroma (WinterGreen) as reporter, and be able for binding silica (L2+AIDA) in order to remove it through a biofilter. The whole circuit is shown below:


Figure 1. Diagram representing our proposed circuit

But we realized E. coli could have a genetic overload because the circuit was too big (approximately 5000 bp). Also the time we had to finish it was not enough, as well as most of the proteins we wanted to produce were putative or untested. So for a better understanding and for determine if each piece works we divided the project into four modules: capture, binding, aroma and resistance, but the project is the result of their correlation. In fact our bacteria was named E. CARU (each letter by each module).

Escherichia coli





Future results

Once we have proved each piece works alone, and we obtained experimental data to support their effectiveness we planned to join every module into the whole circuit we propose at first. It would mean to place IrrE and L2+AIDA gene in E. coli. In the case of NhaS and Wintergreen we would replace the RFP gene from NhaS with the Wintergreen reporter.


● Bouwer, H. (2002). Integrated Water Management for the 21st Century: Problems and Solutions. Journal of irrigation and drainage engineering, 193-200.

● Joseph Cotruvo, N. V. (2010). Desalination Technology: Health and Environmental Impacts. U.S: Taylor and Francis Group.

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