Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Using Electroactive Bacteria, Students Design Toxin Sensor

Published: Thursday, October 04, 2012
Last Updated: Thursday, October 04, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Designed to detect the toxic substances arsenic and naphthalene in water by using electroactive bacterial species S. oneidensis MR-1.

Using bacteria that can produce an electric current, student engineers are putting the finishing touches on a low-cost, field-deployable toxin sensor that could help protect water sources.

Cornell University Genetically Engineered Machines (CU GEM) is trying to help the oil industry develop sound environmental safety practices.

Bolstered by a $20,000 grant from the Oil Sands Leadership Initiative, the team has designed and built a biosensor that uses the electroactive bacterial species Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 to detect the toxic substances arsenic and naphthalene in water.

They will enter their design in the 2012 iGEM North American East Jamboree competition, Oct. 12-14, at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

Abundant in Canada and Russia, oil sand, or tar sand, is a petroleum deposit that requires specialized, energy-intensive refining techniques to extract hydrocarbons from a muddy substance that resembles tar.

Left over in this process is a pool of chemicals, called tailings, that are deposited into holding ponds, causing environmental safety concerns due to their potential for leaking into water sources.

The students' device would help refineries monitor levels of potentially hazardous substances in water sources.

The technology they are using involves genetic manipulation of S. oneidensis MR-1 to generate direct current output in a whole-cell, autonomous biosensor.

Core to the idea is a "biobrick" - a DNA sequence with a specific biological function - in which they will link the bacteria's metal-reduction pathway with a promoter protein that is turned on in the presence of either arsenic or naphthalene.

Biosensors often use fluorescence as their output, which introduces the need for a cumbersome photodiode and the potential for light contamination - problems that would be eliminated by the students' design.

"Tools currently available for things like detecting naphthalene and arsenic are time consuming and expensive," said Jim Mathew '14, co-team leader of CU GEM. "There is a definite need for a device like this."

Their prototype works by placing Shewanella bacteria into a small bioreactor. Water samples continuously pump into the chamber, and the bacteria's genetic circuitry is turned on only in the presence of the metallic compounds.

This causes production of a protein complex that allows the bacteria to create an electric current.

A readout of the levels of current are sent to a field station, providing a reliable and continuous monitoring system.

Making the biosensor comes with all kinds of engineering problems, the students said: getting the pumping system to pump at very low, controlled flow rates, finding a robust battery pack light enough to float in water, and making sure the bacteria don't die inside the chambers by providing them with food.

What's more, the students concerned themselves with ethical questions - making sure, for example, that their system would keep genetically modified bacteria from backwashing out of the reactor.

Their goal is not just to prove a concept, but to build a device that actually works and is eventually self-sustaining, added co-team leader Claire Paduano '13.

The interdisciplinary nature of the team, which has 22 members representing almost every engineering major, enables people of different expertise to work together.

There's the "wet lab" side - working with the biological samples, that has to integrate seamlessly with the "dry lab" - led by co-team leader Dan Levine '14, whose multidisciplinary team is responsible for the design and integration of all electrical and mechanical systems.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Tumor-suppressing Gene Lends Insight to Cancer Treatment
Researchers have found that delicate replication process derails if a gene named PTEN has mutated or is absent.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Synthetic Immune Organ Produces Antibodies
Cornell engineers have created a functional, synthetic immune organ that produces antibodies and can be controlled in the lab, completely separate from a living organism.
Friday, June 12, 2015
On Planes, Savory Tomato Becomes Favored Flavor
Study shows the effect that airplane noise has on passengers' taste preferences.
Friday, May 15, 2015
$5.5M NSF Grant Aims to Improve Rice Crops with Genome Editing
Researchers to precisely target, cut, remove and replace DNA in a living cell to improve rice.
Friday, May 08, 2015
'Shield' Gives Tricky Proteins a New Identity
Solubilization of Integral Membrane Proteins with high Levels of Expression.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
DNA Safeguard May Be Key In Cancer Treatment
Cornell researchers have developed a new technique to understand the actions of key proteins required for cancer cells to proliferate.
Monday, March 09, 2015
A ‘STAR’ is Born: Engineers Devise Genetic 'On' Switch
A new “on” switch to control gene expression has been developed by Cornell scientists.
Tuesday, February 03, 2015
Bacteria Be Gone!
New technology keeps bacteria from sticking to surfaces.
Monday, January 19, 2015
On the Environmental Trail of Food Pathogens
Learning where Listeria dwells can aid the search for other food pathogens.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Chemists Show That ALS is a Protein Aggregation Disease
Using a technique that illuminates subtle changes in individual proteins, chemistry researchers at Cornell have uncovered new insight into the underlying causes of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Genetics Used to Improve Plants for Bioenergy
An upcoming genetics investigation into the symbiotic association between soil fungi and feedstock plants for bioenergy production could lead to more efficient uptake of nutrients, which would help limit the need for expensive and polluting fertilizers.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Computer Model Reveals Cancer's Energy Source
Findings focused on the energy-making process in cancer cells known as the Warburg Effect.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
A New Player in Lipid Metabolism Discovered
Specially engineered mice gained no weight, and normal counterparts became obese on the same high-fat, obesity-inducing Western diet.
Monday, August 18, 2014
Ingested Nanoparticles May Damage Liver
Although nanoparticles in food, sunscreen and other everyday products have many benefits, researchers from Cornell are finding that at certain doses, the particles might cause human organ damage.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Foodborne Pathogen Detection Speeds Up Dramatically
Next-generation sequencing techniques allow rapidly identification of strains of salmonella, quickening responses to potential outbreaks.
Monday, July 21, 2014
Scientific News
Liquid Biopsies: Utilization of Circulating Biomarkers for Minimally Invasive Diagnostics Development
Market Trends in Biofluid-based Liquid Biopsies: Deploying Circulating Biomarkers in the Clinic. Enal Razvi, Ph.D., Managing Director, Select Biosciences, Inc.
Lab-on-a-Chip Offers Promise for TB and Asthma Patients
A device to mix liquids using ultrasonics is the first and most difficult component in a miniaturized system for low-cost analysis of sputum from patients with pulmonary diseases such as tuberculosis and asthma.
Intracellular Microlasers Could Allow Precise Labeling of up to a Trillion Individual Cells
MGH investigators have induced structures incorporated within individual cells to produce laser light at wavelengths that differ based on the size, shape and composition of each microlaser, allowing precise labeling of individual cells.
Real-Time Imaging of Lung Lesions During Surgery
Targeted molecular agents cause lung adenocarcinomas to fluoresce during surgery, according to pilot report.
Watching a Tumour Grow in Real-Time
Researchers from the University of Freiburg have gained new insight into the phases of breast cancer growth.
Protein Related to Long Term Traumatic Brain Injury Complications Discovered
NIH-study shows protein found at higher levels in military members who have suffered multiple TBIs.
Childhood Cancer Cells Drain Immune System’s Batteries
Cancer cells in neuroblastoma contain a molecule that breaks down a key energy source for the body’s immune cells, leaving them too physically drained to fight the disease.
Urine Proteins Point to Early-Stage Pancreatic Cancer
A combination of three proteins found at high levels in urine can accurately detect early-stage pancreatic cancer, researchers at the BCI have shown.
Researcher Discovers Trigger of Deadly Melanoma
New research sheds light on the precise trigger that causes melanoma cancer cells to transform from non-invasive cells to invasive killer agents, pinpointing the precise place in the process where "traveling" cancer turns lethal.
New Vaccine For Chlamydia to Use Synthetic Biology
Prokarium Ltd, a biotechnology company developing transformational oral vaccines, have announced new funding from SynbiCITE, the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Synthetic Biology.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!