The New Archaea-Type

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The 2014 University of Georgia iGEM team focuses on two main goals:

First, we aim to make methanogens a more tangible host for synthetic biologists. To achieve this, we are creating a metabolic flux model for the lipid biosynthesis pathway in Methanococcus maripaludis. Our goal is to map the entire pathway, complete a genome-scale flux balance analysis, and develop strategies for overproduction of isoprenoid compounds. In addition, ribosome binding sites (RBS) are not well characterized in Archaea, so we are creating a library of RBS sequences and measuring their relative strength of fluorescence. A library of RBS will allow us the ability for variable levels of expression. Also, we are developing new methods for extracting, concentrating, measuring and quantifying organically soluble material from M. maripaludis cultures.

Second, we are demonstrating the utility of methanogens in synthetic biology by the optimized production of geraniol, an organically soluble material. Following up on the work from the 2013 iGEM season, we’ve continued targeting geraniol as a high value bio-chemical which may be produced from inexpensive substrates such as H2/CO2 or formate. Uses of Geraniol include potential biofuel, organic pesticide, tumor suppressor of breast, colon and prostate cancers, fragrances and flavorings. Last year, geraniol production in M. maripaludis was quantified as 0.2% of lipid dry weight. This year, UGA-iGEM seeks to address the overall geraniol yield through several projects which satisfy both of our main goals mentioned above.