Pretoria_UP

Description: We are Pretoria_UP, the iGEM team of the University of Pretoria. We study microbiology, medical plant science, biotechnology, genetics, multimedia, electronic engineering, mechanical engineering and industrial engineering. Our team consists of 3 graduates and 8 undergraduates, as well as 1 instructor and 7 advisors. This year we are working on Synthetic RNA aptamers for thylakoid tethering in photo-electrobiochemical cells - a project called Watts-Aptamer! Project Background The world population of over 7.4 billion people, which is rapidly increasing, consumes about 3500 kWh/year per capita. The need for energy generated from renewable resources is becoming more significant in light of this demand and the threat of climate change. In recent years a lot of research into photo-bioelectrochemical cells explored different light-harvesting photosynthetic proteins. The research was aimed at discovering which proteins would serve as the best components in light-activated generation of fuels or electrical power. The proteins studied include photosynthetic reaction centers (RCs), photosystem I (PSI) and photosystem II (PSII) (Yehezkeli et al. 2014). Aptamers are RNA or DNA oligonucleotides capable of binding to specific targets with high affinity and specificity. These aptamers are usually “mined” through a process called Systematic Evolution of Ligands by EXponential enrichment (SELEX), and many have been identified against different targets including proteins, organic compounds, nucleotides and even whole cells and organisms (Germer et al. 2013). The problem: Attachment! Photo-bioelectrochemical cells hold great potential as clean, alternative energy sources. A major barrier is the attachment, efficiency and cost of the system, making scalability unfeasible. Particularly, synthetic linkers used for thylakoid attachment to electrodes are expensive and difficult to manufacture at sufficient scale. Aim of our project To design and construct an optimized photo-bioelectrochemical cell using an in planta RNA aptamer synthetic biology strategy for self-assembling attachment of plant thylakoids to graphene-coated anodes.
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Year: 2016Visit Wiki
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Updated at: 8/9/16