For over six decades, Vieques, an island-municipality of Puerto Rico, was used as a military training site. An array of contamination was left behind due to the materials and explosives used, devastating the biodiversity, and increasing health risks for the Viequenses. Initiatives to clean the waters and soil of Vieques exist; however, it has been a costly and lengthy process. iGEM RUM-UPRM proposes Mer-Nite, a solution to decrease the contamination in Vieques due to the military practices. Phase 1 of the project consisted of designing a genetic system to absorb and bioremediate mercury through the expression of the mer operon, combined with a second circuit that will be activated upon the presence of RDX and degrade the contaminant through the expression of the xplA and xplB genes. Mer-Nite represents an alternative solution to decrease the contamination, conserve biodiversity, and improve the quality of life of Vieques.
Synthetic Biology has helped provide many solutions for a wide variety of the world's current environmental problems. We propose to implement the use of synthetic biology to mediate contamination caused by military practices in Anones Lagoon Vieques, Puerto Rico. Our project, Mer-Nite to the rescue, focuses on the bioremediation of mercury and biodegradation RDX. To achieve this, our prototypes will consist of a construct bacterium of Pseudomona putida, that will be able to detect, absorb, and biodegrade or bioremediate the contaminants. Meanwhile, the hardware shall work as a water filter device that will draw in the contaminated water into the chamber with our construct bacterium and release the water free of mercury and RDX. Want to leant more about our project? Click here
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Mer-nite, our hero, fights to bioremediate mercury and biodegrade RDX in Vieques, Puerto Rico. Her superpower is using GMOs to fight environmental challenges.