The International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) Competition is an annual undergraduate research competition hosted by MIT. The project aim is to develop Synthetic Biology through the creation of a registry of parts. Each part in the registry is an analyzed strain of DNA with several specific restriction sites at each end of the fragment. These strains can be anything from promoters to genes, allowing easy assembly and reassembly of these parts into genetic circuits. The 2006 jamboree consisted of 37 teams from 12 countries whom presented their findings.
Increasing energy demands have brought about the need for a renewable, efficient energy source. Using microorganisms to convert biomass to fuel offers a promising alternative to traditional energy sources, but still faces developmental challenges. Microbes such as Escherichia coli have evolved to preferentially metabolize sugars in a process knows as diauxie. Engineering bacteria to eliminate diauxie with the common lignocellulose sugar xylose would allow faster digestion of ordinary plant biomass while simultaneously reducing the costly sugar residues of wild type bacterial digests. Such modified strains of E. coli need to reduce or eliminate glucose’s repression of catabolization proteins necessary to utilize the energy stored in xylose. The effect of such augmentation would be readily assayed with fluorescent proteins placed downstream of xylose regulatory regions.
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