We are a group of 1st, 2nd and final year undergraduates studying Molecular Biology and Genetics, Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology. A growing trend in increased insecticide resistance has been observed in both agriculture and the public health sector. Many chemicals currently in use are ineffective and are in fact exacerbating the situation. Thus, novel strategies that reduce the pressure for development of chemical resistance are required, and syn-bio may offer a feasible, target specific solution. After researching some possible project ideas, this year we have decided to focus on developing a syn-bio solution to the worlds’ bed bug problem.

This year the Westminster iGEM team are tackling the growing bed bug problem. Serratia marcescens has been identified as an efficient chitin degrader, however as it is a pathogenic organism it can not be used as a biocontrol agent. Our idea is to use the chitin genes from this bacterium and create a chitin degrading E.coli. We will test the efficiency of the activity of chitinase which is expressed by our engineered E.coli compared to that of S. marcescens by using a chitin azure assay.

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by Westminster iGEM 2013