Team:IIT Delhi/Idea




Synthetic biology is a unique field that combines the age old principles of engineering and comparatively new area of biotechnology research. iGEM is an excellent opportunity for promoting innovative thinking and synthetic biology research. It requires us to think out of the box for devising innovative solutions to common problems like Arsenic problem in drinking water and detecting hidden landmines in the war zones. Projects on detecting acidic/basic conditions in solutions have been made in iGEM before. However none of the projects are able to specifically differentiate between hydrogen ion concentration levels.

Motivation for the project pH coli comes from various application which it can have, once it comes in the real world. Some of the applications which in today’s world one can think of are:

Detection of pH in drinking water will be a direct application of our bacterial pH sensor. In India there has been shortage of clean water, one reason for the same is the pH of drinking water and this essentially is the reason for several digestive problems, organ failure, arterial build-up, joint calcification, and metabolic imbalances. In rural areas where people might not get proper medication and do not know the consequences of drinking, in these cases creating such an engineered bacterial machine provides an inexpensive way of detecting acidity or alkalinity of water.

Controlled expression of proteins/ enzymesis another application for which our genetic circuit will act as a basis. In fermentative industrial production especially in case of naturally acid producing microorganisms including yeast and certain bacteria, this can come in use as this has great potential in terms of process cost or saving money, which is regularly spent on chemicals like IPTG (very common inducer in fermentation processes, storage at -20 Degrees Celsius), methanol, cumate.

Saving wood structure from termites synthetic microbes can be used for secretions in stomach of other organisms for example specific secretion of cellulases inhibiting/cleaving enzymes in termite gut (which is alkaline in nature) for killing termites ability to degrade wood. The organism can be designed in such a way that it only works in the gut of a termite and does not, in any way, harm humans. This can be very helpful in case of wood-frame construction which is very popular in earthquake prone areas.

Model of our gene network can be used in further researches for development of similar tools using synthetic biology for example, The acid and base inducible promoters can be replaced by promoters that are induced by certain pollutants in water, for example pesticides like endosulfan, to detect their concentration levels and, then to remove them.

Our synthetic microbe can be used in place of oral medicinal intake by sitting inside the stomach and secreting specific enzymes in specific conditions, such as secretion of lactase to digest milk and milk products in lactose-intolerant people.

A bacterial Antacid a friendly bacteria would reside in the stomach and upon increase in acidity can relieve the acidity thus preventing ulcers. This type of treatment can reduce side effects caused when using normal antacid tablets.

Feel Free to contact us at igemiitdelhi2013 at gmail dot com if you have queries; requests; suggestions et cetera.

Thanks to iGEM and IIT Delhi,
we had an awesome summer!
Our Project was supported by and done by the students

 of IIT Delhi, India.

This project was done as a part of iGEM:
iGEM Main Website