The problem of algae bloom is becoming more and more serious due to the global eutrophication. One of the main hazards of algal blooms is cyanobacteria toxins, especially microcystins. It can cause brain fever, skin allergies, even induce tumorigenesis and cause liver cancer. In 2016, more than 100 people were poisoned by cyanobacteria toxin in Lake Utah.
Our team decided to design a scheme based on recombinant cyanophages to degrade microcystins and cleave cyanobacteria to provide our solutions on solving cyanobacteria blooms.
Mlr gene cluster from Sphingomonas sp. ACM-3962 can express MCs degrading enzyme mlrA/B/C. This part was introduced into the cyanophage genome, so that the phage could express degradation enzymes, which greatly reduced the toxicity of MC. The relevant parts have been proved to be usable in E.coli
In any case, cyanophage is a virus, and safety issues always come first. After the artificial "upgrade" of the cyanophage, we also expect to add "handcuffs" to ensure that the cyanophage would always be implemented in the right place. The handcuff mentioned above is the “tail” protein with UAG inserted and orthogonal translation system.
We hope that this project will eventually be applied to natural water bodies. We refer to the cellular automata model to simulate the process of cyanophages acting on cyanobacteria cells, and predict and qualitatively analyze the influence of cyanobacteria reproduction and survival ability on the results.
In short, through exchanges with experts, researchers and others, we have gained a deeper understanding of our project and designed new solutions to the problem of cyanobacteria; through education and engagement, we aim to educate the public about synthetic biology and iGEM competitions.
With all these great results above, a complete project to solve the problem of cyanobacteria bloom has been successfully constructed. The recombinant "natural enemy of algae" will eliminate cyanobacteria and toxins according to our plan. The water in our lakes will be safe again.