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iGEM Dundee 2013 · ToxiMop

The Microcystin Monster

Algal blooms are an ever-growing problem in freshwater systems. At the Beijing Olympics 2008, 10,000 people were hired to clean up the extensive algal bloom in time for the sailing regatta. The main concern is the level of a toxin called microcystin, which is released by cyanobacteria when they die and lyse.

Microcystin, a toxin released by Microcystis aeruginosa, is harmful to mammals due to its ability to bind to the human protein PP1, thus altering its function. We are exploiting the ability of the human protein phosphatase (PP1) to covalently bind to microcystin, in order to develop a biological mop ‘janitor’ to rid algal bloom water of the toxin.