Heavy metal contamination of seafood is becoming a severe problem worldwide. The amount of industrial contamination that finds its way into fish we eat poses a severe health hazard not only to our stomachs but to a large amount of marine life. We were able to engineer a strand of E.coli bacteria that, alongside the use of a container we designed, can detect, accumulate and isolate mercury (Hg) from anchovy fish meal.
Contamination of heavy metals is intoxicating the food chain at an alarming rate. We are working with T.A.S.A., exporter of anchovy fish meal to detect, accumulate, and isolate mercury (Hg) from their fish meal product. Our first construct contains a Hg accumulator and Green Fluorescence protein (GFP) to detect and accumulate the Hg. The second construct, with delayed expressed of a Killer Red (KR) protein, will kill the bacteria in response to light. We aim to characterize the delayed expression of the KR protein under three different RBSs using unique constructs. The construct enabling delayed expression of the KR protein will be coupled with GFP/accumulator construct. We are building the GFP/accumulator construct using overlapping PCR. Finally, we are designing and creating a container optimizing the efficiency of detection and removal of Hg from fish meal.
We are the only Latin American High School team, and the Only High School Team in the Southern Hemisphere!
Why is this significant? Being in Peru, it is more difficult to access the materials and equipment needed for synthetic biology. As our university mentor has said, it is the main factor to killing his research. Our customs have strict regulations on carrying or shipping biological parts.