Alternative Roots

Welcome to Alternative Roots

Alternative Roots
Newcastle iGEM

Hello There

We are Alternative Roots

Sustainability is a topic of increasing concern in the fields of agriculture, food security and rural development. There is a dire need for innovation in this field; primarily driven by predictions of substantial global population increase coupled with severe pressure on non-renewable resources. The result is a necessity to increase food production whilst reducing our impact on the environment. As such, our aim is to find sustainable solutions that address some of these issues.

Nitrogen-fixation for fertilizer production is extremely energy-intensive, accounting for 80% of energy use in agriculture. This is due to the high temperatures and pressures involved in the Haber-Bosch process. Nitrogen is essential for plant growth but cannot be directly accessed from the atmosphere by plants despite its abundance. If an alternative to fertilizers could be developed to provide nitrogen for plant growth that is cheap, easy to use and sustainable, then energy use in the agriculture sector could be greatly reduced.

In 2018, Team Newcastle aim to engineer microbes for sustainable agriculture. The team shall build upon Newcastle University’s long and illustrious history in agriculture and food security research by engineering root colonising microbes. The microbes will attract bacteria that modify the soil's composition including nitrogen content, in a fashion that is suitable for uptake by plants via the roots.



Meet the Newcastle Team

Luke Waller

Luke’s my name, Conner is my game. I am the engineering part Conner wants to intertwine with. Having finished my third year I am staying on at Newcastle to complete my masters, hopefully getting into robotics. I took this role as I wanted to explore an avenue of engineering I was not familiar with and work with a multi-disciplined team.

Frank Eardley

I am a 4th year MBiol Cellular & Molecular Biology student. I joined iGEM for the opportunity to work with students from other academic fields and learn more about synthetic biology. Outside of my degree, I am a scuba diving instructor and enjoy jumping in the North Sea whatever the weather.

Will Tankard

I’ve just completed my second year as an Architecture student. iGEM was a step into the dark for me, the last time I did anything biology related was during my GCSE’s. I’m interested how the architecture and biology disciplines can merge. Synthetic Biology offers a new perspective on design starting with a bottom up approach.

Heather Bottomley

Heather's the name, not doing the wiki is my game. I've just finished my third year of MBiol Cellular and Molecular Biology. I joined iGEM as an opportunity to formulate a novel idea and work in a multi - disciplinary team enhancing my biological knowledge.

Connor Trotter

Connor is the name, getting my name misspelled is the game. I'm currently entering my third year of Biology which has, so far, been fuelled by an excess of caffeine and binge watching a lot of Rupaul's Drag Race. I joined Newcastle's team to apply what I have learned in a unique fashion by intertwining elements of Engineering and Architecture into biological concepts.

Patrycja Ubysz

I'm Pat, no game with my name. Just finished first year of Chemistry, I probably liked it too much. I believe being interdisciplinary is crucial for research, especially in Synthetic Biology. I want to contribute to the team using my chemical/physical approach. I love working in the lab, however, would be happier without microbes. Basic coffee addict, bad experience with BBQ parties. Probably follow every single NASA team account on Twitter.

Lewis Tomlinson

Name: Lewis. Likes: llamas, guinea pigs, rock hyrax, all other animals, molecular biology, dungeons and dragons, science fiction and fantasy. Life goal: llama sanctuary (including birds and rodents).

Sadiya Quazi

Sadiya’s the name, which most can’t pronounce (despite it being totally phonetic). Just completed first year of Chemistry after switching from Fine Art, and yes, it’s been a huge change, as people always exclaim when I tell them. Both benefit from having that alternative perspective and this is what drew me to iGEM - working as part of a very cross-disciplinary team.

Umar Farooq

I'm Umar, a 1st year undergraduate studying Automation and Control Engineering. I joined IGEM for the opportunity to work alongside a multi-disciplinary team and develop my skills outside of engineering. When I'm not working on the project, I like swimming, playing the guitar and eating cake. Addicted to bad jokes, allergic to onions.

Chris Carty

I’m Chris, 2nd year Architecture student, discovered iGEM when beginning my dissertation in the area of Bio-Materialism. I want to take organisms that have been designed at the genetic scale and design them for use at the human scale - aiding the transition from biologically inspired to biologically engineered design. Better at architecture than Will.


Check out what parts we're using

We will be utilising iGEM registry parts sequenced by IDT to construct a biosynthetic operon for expression in Escherichia coli. The operon will synthesise naringenin, a flavonoid that attracts nitrogen fixing bacteria. The operon will contain the genes for four enzymes: 4 – Coumaryl ligase – 4CL (BBa_K1033001), Tyrosine ammonia lyase - TAL (BBa_K1033000), Chalcone isomerase - CHI (BBa_K1497000) and Chalcone synthase - CHS (BBa_K1497001). Each of these parts contain a strong ribosome binding site (BBa_B0034). This construct will be under the control of a T7 promoter (BBa_I712074) to observe its expression in E. coli as a proof of concept. Once biosynthesis under the control of T7 is achieved, the construct will be tested under a constitutive promoter (BBa_J23100). Parts for biosynthesis in the final chassis organism, root-colonising Pseudomonas fluorescens, will be constructed in the plasmid backbone pBSC1C3.



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Our Sponsors

Newcastle iGEM is proud to be sponsored by:

The iGEM Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of synthetic biology, education and competition, and the development of an open community and collaboration. This is done by fostering an open, cooperative community and friendly competition.

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iGEMers are building a better world by solving problems with the help of synthetic biology. We inspire responsible innovation through our efforts in biosafety, biosecurity and public outreach.

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This global network is leading the field, taking what they learned in the competition and expanding it to continue to build a better world.

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Contact Info

Where to Find Us

Devonshire Building
Newcastle University
Newcastle upon Tyne

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