Environmental issues are becoming increasingly important in our societies : waste, pollution, garbage…it feels like we are running out of time without any viable solution. The lack of plastic waste recycling is one of the big current problem, mostly because it is mainly petrol-based.
This year our iGEM Bordeaux Team aim to find a way to substitute an alternative segment of the traditional petrobased chemistry by a new green bio-based chemistry. The strategy is to focus on the bio-catalysis of the hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) in 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA). Usually, HMF is product from petroleum but American chemist C.Zhang recently discovered that it can be obtained from glucose, and now we know that it can come from any glucose-derived compound too. Indeed, HMF is a secondary product of the breakdown of sugars (fructose’s dehydration), and his oxidation leads to the production of FDCA, a product that is really interesting in green chemistry because it can substitute Terephthalic Acid (PTA) (used to do plastic bottles for example) in the production of polyester.
Our project consists in HMF detoxification by using it as a substrate to produce FDCA through bacteria thanks to 3 enzymes: HMFH, HMFO, ALDH1. These 3 enzymes have been cloned in a plasmid previous to be transformed on E.Coli bacteria. Our current issues are to know how to be sure that FDA has been well produced and how to collect it. We also need to evaluate/establish the potential toxicity of HMF toward E.Coli.