the Sucrose Factory
In 2017 alone, humans released ~32.5 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere. CO2 emissions from humans have two major effects: global warming and ocean acidification. Even if man-made carbon emissions ended today, the CO2 in our atmosphere would persist for thousands of years because the natural processes that absorb CO2 simply cannot sink the CO2 fast enough. Additionally, current carbon sink technology is not economically feasible and would cost trillions of dollars at modest estimates.
We believe the solution lies in cyanobacteria - photosynthetic prokaryotes - as they were the first organisms to sink carbon dioxide billions of years ago. They are also some of the most efficient autotrophs on the planet. Our ultimate goal is to make it economically feasible to sink carbon dioxide by offsetting the cost with a valuable byproduct. Our approach is to use these cyanobacteria to make sucrose (sugar) for the industrial production of biofuels and bioplastics, while simultaneously sinking CO2.
After searching the iGEM registry, we realized that there was a lack of useful BioBricks and genetic tools for working with cyanobacteria. To address the lack of characterized cyanobacterial promoters, our team developed a variety of constitutive, light-inducible, and nutrient-repressible promoter BioBricks for our strain of Synechococcus elongatus. We hope these promoters will be used to produce other high-value carbon-sinking products!