July 10, 2020
a preliminary exploration
Interview with CSAEEP
BUCT's north campus is located in the beautiful scenic area of Changping District, Beijing. In the campus, some lakes are not so beautiful. On the contrary, algal blooms often occur. At one time, they are very serious, showing unpleasant green. Out of curiosity about this issue, we tried to contact environmental protection departments. Finally, we contacted Chinese Society of Agro-Ecological Environment Protection, CSAEEP, as a preliminary exploration of our project.
Chinese Society of Agro-Ecological Environment Protection is a non-profit social organization voluntarily formed by relevant scientific workers and managers.
They introduced to us the current situation of algal blooms in China: the basic cause of cyanobacteria blooms is excessive nitrogen and phosphorus in water. These nitrogen and phosphorus may come from human activities. When the temperature is suitable in summer, cyanobacteria often erupt. Many famous lakes, such as Taihu Lake, Dianchi Lake and Chaohu Lake, have serious cyanobacteria outbreaks every year. These lakes are shallow lakes, which are more prone to water bloom than deep-water lakes.
Therefore, we have a more comprehensive understanding of the causes of algal blooms. On the other hand, we also see the urgency of biodegradable cyanobacteria in science. Actually,this interview made us more clear about the significance of our team's project ,and we have confidence to do it well!
August 14, 2020
Pay more attention to cyanobacterial toxins
Discuss with Self-employed of aquatic product
Jiangang Shi, a self-employed of aquaculture product, is very familiar with the effects of cyanobacteria on fish, shrimp and other animals in the water, although he is not familiar with the scientific knowledge behind it. Shi mentioned that the current way to deal with cyanobacteria in aquaculture is salvaging and chemicals. The main role of chemicals (such as copper sulfate, Polyalumina, PAC) is to decompose cyanobacteria, but these chemicals are either harmful or prone to bloom again. And when chemicals are used in areas with severe algal blooms, a large number of fish will die, because the cyanobacteria decomposition leads to a sharp rise of toxins’ level in the water. In addition, Shi often raises some filter feeding fish (such as silver carp). He said that the silver carp with enough weight will have a good inhibition effect on cyanobacteria.
Unfortunately, he believes that these toxins have not been taken seriously in the breeding process. He suggested that we can investigate these toxins.
Later, we found many cases of cyanobacteria poisoning. This also makes us focus on cyanobacteria toxins. Here's an example. More than 100 people were admitted to Utah's Poison Control Center with vomiting, diarrhea, high fever, skin or eye irritation and allergies, the Daily Mail reported. Studies have linked the phenomenon to an explosion of cyanobacteria cells in the Utah lake.
The World Health Organization puts the moderate risk of cyanobacteria cell count at 100, 000. Most of the lake samples exceeded that limit for three times, with one sample containing more than 700,000 cyanobacteria cells.
By understanding the context deeply, we have discovered the seriousness of the toxin problem. What can we do with these terrible cyanobacterial toxins? Back in the lab, based on the literature we read, we devised a method. Since our team has also done cyanobacteria control projects in previous years, our team has decided to develop a novel plan to degrade microcystin in order to provide a potential solution for cyanobacteria control in water. We have received valuable and useful advice from the Guardian and the self-employed. We are able to combine the views of academia and the community to further optimize our project concept and make it suitable for practical application.
August 15, 2020
A joint online interview
Lucky enough to be with Wuxi Ecological and Environment Bureau
How do researchers around the world deal with cyanobacteria / cyanobacteria toxins? Is this an urgent environmental problem to be solved in China / in the world, or is it not a threat now? What is the difference between our design and the existing strategy and is it desirable? In order to understand these practical problems, together with Jiangnan_China, we interviewed the staff of Wuxi Ecological and Environment Bureau online to understand the seriousness of the current cyanobacteria problem and the solutions to the water bloom problem and cyanobacteria toxin, and asked them about their views and suggestions on our project. Through this meeting, we learned important information:
★ 1. The strategy to deal with cyanobacteria and cyanobacteria toxin. The local environmental
protection bureau generally analyzes the water bloom by buoys or satellite clouds on the lake. The blue
algae in Taihu Lake will be removed from water (physical method) when the cyanobacteria is prone to be
concentrated from April to October every year. The salvaged cyanobacteria will be dried and burned. In fact,
it can also lead to the return of nitrogen and phosphorus to the environment.
"Although the organic matter content of cyanobacteria is abundant, the utilization of cyanobacteria has been difficult due to the presence of cyanobacteria toxins."
★ 2.The severity of cyanobacteria and cyanobacteria toxin. In Taihu Lake, the content of cyanobacteria in Taihu Lake tends to be stable all year round, but it is easy to burst and grow in summer - and the accumulation of cyanobacteria will cause water environment pollution.
★ 3.As managers, what tools they want / their opinion.
They credited our attempts to seek new solutions in synthetic biology. They thought our plan may have a good effect on the treatment of water samples, but if engineering bacteria are put into natural lakes, it may have little effect. Through this interview, we also realized that engineering bacteria cannot meet our original goal, so we try to find new solutions to solve this problem.
August 16, 2020
Wuxi A future plan
have a meeting with Dr. Yi-Gang Tong
Dr. Yi-Gang Tong, Dean of School of Life Science and Technology, Beijing University of Chemical Technology, a member of the Standing Committee of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Chinese Society of Microbiology, is an expert on viruses and phages. When we first contacted Dr. Tong, we were always thinking about how to solve the problem that traditional chassis organisms are difficult to play a significant role in natural waters, but we did not get a good solution. He pointed out that the system we designed in the past could not meet our preset application. He made an important suggestion that we could focus on cyanophage as a new plan. We finally decided to use cyanophages as our new chassis organism.
At the meeting, Dr. Tong talked about the great potential of cyanophage in the future and the role that this small thing can play in our project.
He suggested that:
▲ 1.CRISPR can be used to design our cyanophage virus.
▲ 2.Cyanophage is a potential chassis organism. Gene editing tools can be introduced into the phage to transform cyanobacteria. Not only can they be used to degrade toxins, but also the toxin genes can be eliminated or beneficial genes can be added to the cyanobacteria genome (with economic benefits).
September 26, 2020
China Unexpected bad news
contact China National Health Association, CHNHA
In September 21st, the Animal and National Parks Administration of Botswana announced that the accidental death of more than 300 elephants in Northwest Botswana was caused by drinking water containing cyanobacteria. We were deeply shocked and saddened by the news. We contacted doctors from the Chinese National Health Association to learn about similar incidents in the past. They said that there were not many cases of cyanobacteria poisoning of human beings, and the last famous event was about Lake Utah in 2016. The reduction of poisoning human events may due to the improvement of water treatment, but a large number of fish, terrestrial animals and birds poisoning death often occur. Toxins can accumulate in fish, and long-term consumption of this fish can also increase the risk of cancer. Few urban residents are poisoned by cyanobacteria toxin, so there are not many relevant data.
A detailed public inquiry
understand the public's understanding
and acceptance of cyanophage treatment
We hope to investigate the public's understanding of cyanobacteria blooms in China and their acceptance of our cyanophage treatment. In order to explore whether the design of our research can be accepted by the public, we conducted a survey. We have received 127 filled questionnaires in total, representing 127 individual respondents.
Note: Our questionnaire only involves an anonymous survey. Each respondent was informed of the purpose of the survey and expressed informed consent. This questionnaire has been approved by BUCT's Institutional Review Board.
In this survey, most of the respondents online were young adults.
The key from these responses are as follows:
● Although most of the respondents had a certain understanding of the community (92.13%) / global (64.57%), nearly 30% of them had a wrong understanding or did not know the harm.
● Nearly 91% of the subjects were aware of at least one treatment of algae and its toxin. (Physical salvaging, 80.31%, followed by chemical removal, 60.63%) More pleasing, respondents had higher acceptance of physical salvaging and our microbial methods about cyanophage.
● The public has a wide understanding of the main sources of eutrophication caused by chemical fertilizer, domestic sewage, and industrial pollution, and the weak correlation between burning mineral dyes and the algal bloom is generally correct. However, livestock and poultry breeding is also one of the main sources.
● From the perspective of ecological balance, cyanobacteria also have significance. The public has a general understanding of algae. (Include the nitrogen fixation effect, cyanobacteria as food and chemical production of raw materials)
From this survey, we know that the public know more about cyanobacteria than expected, but less about synthetic biology and biotechnology. Fortunately, our design has been well received. Based on these conclusions, we have carried out publicity and popular science on cyanobacterial toxins and synthetic biology.
 Chinese Society of Agro-Ecological Environment Protection, CSAEEP: www.aeep.org.cn
 China National Health Association, CHNHA:http://www.chnha.org.cn/html/index.html
 Wuxi Ecology and Environment Bureau: http://www.huishan.gov.cn/