Formedium are supporting Team Aalto-Helsinki at the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition. For more details, see the following links:
Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are an annual problem in many water systems. During the summer, the bacteria release hepatotoxins called microcystins (MCs) which pose health risks to humans and animals. The goal of our project is to build a two-part system to detect and then degrade MCs. Our detection system is based on the natural oxidative stress response of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Exposure to MCs is linked to higher levels of oxidative stress, and we will couple this response to the expression of yellow fluorescent protein. Thus, fluorescence levels will indicate the amount of MCs present in a sample. To understand and validate our MC detection mechanism, we will also create mathematical and molecular models. For degrading the detected toxins, we will express and purify the enzyme microcystinase (MlrA), which is naturally found in some gram-negative bacteria. The enzyme renders the MCs harmless by modifying their structure.