Revision as of 00:58, 18 October 2014 by N.Bhatt (Talk | contribs)

Cornell iGEM

web stats

Project Background

Water Pollution

Heavy metal pollution in water is one of the most significant public health risks around the world. Pollutants including lead, mercury, and nickel can enter water supplies through a number of methods including improper disposal of waste, industrial manufacturing, and mining. When solubilized, they have the ability to cause environmental and health problems. These heavy metals are acutely toxic at high concentrations and carcinogenic with long-term exposure even at low concentrations. Methods exist to remove heavy metals from water supplies, but these methods create other hazardous wastes and are more effective in waters with high concentrations of metals. Due to the high affinity of binding proteins, a biological based filtration system can be more effective at treating water contaminated with lower concentrations of heavy metals without generating large volumes of toxic waste.

Sequestration Systems

Protein-based filtration systems have been extensively studied for purifying heavy metals. At Cornell University, our advisor, Dr. David Wilson, has developed bioremedial systems consisting of metal-specific transporters and a metal binding protein called metallothionein. The two metals targeted were mercury and nickel. We plan to work to improve the efficiency and lifespan of these filtration systems. We will also be developing a novel sequestration system for lead by utilizing a putative lead transport protein from Nicotiana tabacum. Further information about the toxic effects of our targeted heavy metals and the transport proteins can be found by clicking the icons below.