Description: What is our project? We aim to create magnetite crystals in Escherichia coli. Magnetite is an iron oxide that is formed by organelles called magnetosomes. Magnetosomes are found inside of some species of magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) such as Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense. Magnetotactic bacteria use magnetite to orientate themselves; by following magnetic fields MTB can move towards anaerobic environments at the bottom of a body of water. However, the applications of growing magnetite crystals in Escherichia coli are far greater. Synthetic biology allows us to create unique constructs and for our team means that Nano-crystals of magnetite could be produced in different shapes and sizes that allow for a variety of applications. Why is it important? There are many novel applications for magnetite that could be explored. Our main areas of interest are heavy metal removal from water, as well as data storage in the form of crystals with different levels of magnetism. The use of magnetite in MRI scans and drug delivery are currently being explored. Magnetite crystals have already proven useful in catalysing the synthesis of ammonia at an industrial scale and were also used in early audio recording. If magnetite can be grown in Escherichia coli it could potentially produce a sustainable source of magnetite thereby eliminating the need for mining the mineral. How are we going to do it? Team UKC will express genes associated with magnetite formation in Escherichia coli by growing the bacteria with a plasmid that contains both these genes and a gene for resistance to an antibiotic. Should the expression of a single gene not yield magnetite, we aim to express multiple genes to determine what construct is necessary for magnetite particles to form. We will then grow our modified Escherichia coli in the presence of iron. Alternatively, we will lyse the cells to test our expressed proteins in an iron rich environment, thereby eliminating the constraints that being cell bound poses. If successful, our magnetic crystals should be visible under an electron microscope.
Collaboration details:
Year: 2016Visit Wiki
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Updated at: 8/9/16