Winner of the 2020 Best Software Track Award
Accelerating outer space exploration with
Software & database for microgravity researchExplore AstroBio
Space-compatible yeast for nutrient biomanufacturing in space
AstroBio 2020 & AstroYeast 2021 are a two-year iGEM project
iGEM Concordia is developing an R&D platform to facilitate experimental research and biomanufacturing applications in space.
Build AstroBio (Year 1)
AstroBio is a comprehensive, open-source software and web application compiling literature findings on microgravity-induced gene expression changes in yeast and other model organisms.
While researching how microorganisms respond to microgravity, we noticed a lack of bioinformatics tools: there are no databases that allow space bioscientists the ability to compare microgravity-induced gene expression changes across studies, organisms, and type of study (a simulated microgravity study versus a space-flown study). To fill this gap, we decided to build AstroBio.
Use AstroBio to select gene promoters (Year 1)
We used AstroBio to compare microgravity-induced gene expression changes in yeast across different studies and to isolate gene promoter candidates that are specifically altered by microgravity rather than by other stressors such as heat shock and high salt concentration, to name a few. AstroBio was essential to select a strong set of gene promoters that are significantly and predictably affected by microgravity.
Construct a stress reporter (Year 2)
We will use the selected gene promoters to construct a microgravity-induced stress reporter using Green Fluorescent Protein. The reporter will be constructed within the yeast using homologous recombination and inserted using the CRISPR-Cas9 system. The reporter is a quantifiable fluorescent signal that will be used to track changes in promoter expression that are induced by microgravity. We are building our own microgravity simulator to perform our experiments, in the lab, here on Earth.
Create microgravity tolerant yeast strains (Year 2)
In order to increase yeast tolerance to microgravity, we will use whole genome mutagenesis methods such as incubation with mutagens (e.g. UV). We will then perform adaptive lab evolution (ALE) mutagenesis to further increase diversity in our reporter strain populations. For this, we will incubate the reporter strains in a microgravity simulator for several generations of exponential growth, and will use our reporter signal to select for strains that have desirable adaptations compared to normal gravity control samples. We will then measure the change in expression by observing the change in fluorescence over time.
Use AstroYeast to biomanufacture nutrients in microgravity (Year 2)
Microgravity-tolerant yeast, AstroYeast, will be used to biomanufacture vitamin A in simulated microgravity conditions. Among selected promoters, we will be inserting a vitamin A promoter provided by the iGEM 2020 Toulouse team. Vitamin A produced using AstroYeast will be quantified and compared to that produced using yeast strains which are less tolerant to microgravity.