Flotation, Separation, Bio-remediation
Our project focuses on demonstrating flotation of Escherichia coli using gas vesicle proteins (GvPs) as a novel cellular separation technique for bioremediation processes. Current techniques used in different industries such as mining and municipal wastewater treatment, are mechanical, harmful to the environment and expensive. We propose that our system will be a more cost-effective separation technique for various bioremediation processes. Previous iGEM teams have demonstrated gas vesicle production and flotation in mammalian and yeast cells using GvPs from various bacterial species. Shapiro et al., (2018) engineered a GvP-producing plasmid using arg1 from Aphanizomenon flos-aquae and Bacillus megaterium to synthesize these echogenic structures and observed that high expression enabled E. coli to float. Our goal is to replicate and improve their flotation results by modifying arg1 to achieve consistent flotation using a specific induction protocol. Upon sorption or uptake of pollutants or valuable materials, this technique could allow for simpler extraction of pollutant-harboring or heavy metal-bound bacteria.