THE PET PEEVE PROJECT
A FANTASTIC TACTIC TO BIO-TAG PLASTIC
The issue of plastic pollution has spurred a global crisis. Looking for a solution, the OLS SynBio team discovered that the bigger issue is not the recycling of plastic, but instead the inefficient collection and sorting of plastics. The project uses synthetic biology to create a novel fusion protein that can specifically bio-tag polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, so it can be sorted and recycled correctly. The project involves two proteins; PET hydrolase (PET-ase) and a hydrophobin called BsIA, that are produced via a bacterial chassis called Bacillus subtilis. The PET-ase enzyme binds to PET and is fused to a red fluorescent protein called mCherry, visually indicating when the adhesion occurs. The hydrophobin is designed to be used in conjunction with the PET-ase mCherry fusion protein, as it is “water-fearing” and will help to bind the PET-ase to PET plastic. Overall, the solution will create an efficient, cost-effective, and specific marker to tackle the global crisis of plastic pollution by color bio-tagging plastic for sorting.