IGEM:MIT/2007/Updated Ideas

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Estrogen Biosensor

  • some articles:
    • Bacterial biosensor of endocrine modulators [1]
    • A yeast sensor of ligand binding [2]
    • Biosensor for estrogen in water samples [3]

sticky project:


  • temperature (cold shock / heat shock promoters)
  • light (either via light sensitive transcription/translation or photo-induced chemistry)
  • cell growth (stationary phase, log phase)
  • cell type (if growing different strains)
  • metal ion (metal sensitive promoter)
  • estrogen (ER binding domain)
  • cre/lox recombination


  • mussel peptide fused to circularly permuted OmpX (surface display protein, see Rice07)
    • need tyrosine hydroxylase to convert tyrosine to L-DOPA (hydroxylation)? can also occur non-enzymatically (reversible)
    • need tyrosinase to convert L-DOPA to DOPA-quinone (oxidation)? can also occur non-enzymatically (reversible) -- heavy metal ions (like copper) can catalyze...
  • polystyrene peptide fused to OmpX


  • stick to specific surface (plastic, polystyrene, etc)
  • stick nonspecifically (noncovalently) to surface (mussel peptide in reduced DOPA form)
  • crosslink and stick (covalently) to surface and each other (mussel peptide in oxidized quinone form)

output apps:

  • microbial biofilms/membranes
  • bacterial photo-lithography (light-induced glueing)
  • population separations
  • sensor readout
  • "Enhanced Bioaccumulation of Heavy Metal Ions by Bacterial Cells Due to Surface Display of Short Metal Binding Peptides"[4] Check out refs about bacteria that "bioprecipitate" heavy metal ions

articles on heavy metal adhesion:

  • Some applications of bacterial glue (from news)

Fiber-Hungry Bacteria Could Form Natural "Bond" With Wood Industry (Jul 2004)

Bacterial Glue Could Become Medical Adhesive (Apr 2006)

Water Decontamination Application Example (Smart Filtration System)

  • Forrest:
    • Water is collected from a river (or other source) into a filtration setup
    • Bacteria is added to the water
    • The bacteria bind to or take in metals or other pollutants (input 1: detection/uptake of pollutant)
    • Input causes bacteria to be able to bind to the filter material (output 1: stickiness to filter material)
    • The water is now pollutant-free (can be put back into the river or otherwise used, etc)
    • The filter can be cleaned by rinsing/soaking it with water while shining light on it (input 2: light)
    • This second input causes the bacteria to unbind from the filter material (output 2: loss of stickiness to filter material)
  • Bernice:
    • Bacteria lights up when on filter material (perhaps at a certain concentration)
    • When filter glows to a certain extent, we know it's time to change the filter
    • Forrest: could we just add dye to the bacteria to stain it a certain color?

Toxic Metals: Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Hexavalent Chronium, Lead, Mercury

Toxic Metal Exposure

Organic pollutants: Benzene, toluene, xylene, formaldehyde

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

Charles River remediation efforts

Group eyes lawsuit over Charles River pollution

Organic Compounds in the Charles River

Creating a Hypothetical Martian Ecosystem

Photoreceptor Bacteria