OLS_Canmore

Description: We are the "Our Lady of The Snows Catholic Academy - OLS" team from Canmore, Alberta, Canada. Our project aims to break down hair in wastewater treatment facilities, and to break down feather waste in the poultry industry. It is from 'Keratinase' and 'keratin degradation' that we chose our name (BreaKERs) and our motto, that we are KER-ate chopping the keratin waste.After much brainstorming, we chose our project topic because our small community of Canmore is struggling to deal with hair build-up in our wastewater treatment facilities. These buildups have caused equipment failure, clogging, and increased maintenance costs for our town. Currently, these blockages are only dealt with by manually removing the accumulated hair. We thought there must be a better way, using synthetic biology, to solve this problem. Through our research we also found that keratin waste is a huge issue in the poultry processing industry, as feathers are also made up of the protein keratin. Billions of tonnes of feather waste accumulates, with limited options for disposal. At the moment, feathers are often disposed of in environmentally harmful ways. One method is incineration, which leads to the release of many pollutants, foul odours, and harmful runoff contaminating livestock and plants in the surrounding area. Burying the waste is another common disposal method, which leads to harmful leachates. As keratin is protein-rich, there is an opportunity of turning keratin waste into products such as animal feed or fertilizer; however this process is extremely expensive, time consuming, and often yields products of low quality. The goal is for our project to provide an inexpensive and efficient method to more completely break down keratin in both hair and feathers, providing a step towards solving the issue of keratin waste treatment.Our plan is to genetically engineer E.coli K12 to express Keratinase—an enzyme that breaks down the protein keratin, found in feathers and hair. We will use two different genes—Keratinase A (kerA) and Keratinase US (kerUS)—both of which are found naturally in the Bacillus genera. The kerA and kerUS sequences have been optimized for expression in E.coli and synthesized into plasmid rings, then will be ligated into a standard biobrick backbone for submission to the iGEM parts registry. Further plans characterizing these parts and constructing a prototype bioreactor to demonstrate a possible implementation strategy for our project. You can also view other team wiki pages for inspiration! Here are some examples:
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Year: 2016Visit Wiki
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Updated at: 8/9/16