E. cowli - Fighting Climate Change - iGEM 2014 Team Braunschweig

E. cowli - Fighting climate change at the source

Dairy and beef production are important to our daily lives and consumption needs. However, there are serious climate change issues regarding the continual expansion of these industries. The natural microbiota inside the cow’s rumen releases dangerous amounts of greenhouse gases as they help digest the animal's food. Therefore, finding ways to decrease the production of greenhouse gases of dairy cows and cattle is essential in fighting global warming.

In this year’s iGEM project, we fight global warming right at the source - the cow's rumen.

Using the powerful tools of synthetic biology we make it possible to reduce the methane levels through a genetically engineered bacterium named E. cowli, using the soluble form of the enzyme complex methane monooxygenase (sMMO) for hydroxylation of methane to methanol. We successfully expressed all the subunits in soluble form and, furthermore, were able to prove the activity of the whole enzyme complex. Moreover, the effectivity, feasibility as well as the safety of this project was evaluated using a mathematical model.

Besides the laboratory-related topics, we also initialized many more activities to spread the idea of synthetic biology and iGEM. On various occasions we had the chance to present ourselves and our project to the broad public. We taught synthetic biology not only in a lecture but also 1-on-1 in a hands-on internship with a pupil and we also used these events for evaluation of the people's opinions on synthetic biology and consumption of animal products. In many discussions with other teams we took the chance to debate iGEM-related topics such as ethics, safety and intellectual property.
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We are this year's iGEM Team of the Technische Universität Braunschweig. Get to know us, our motivations and much more on our team profiles!

Policy & Practices

iGEM is more than only working in a lab - it's spreading the word. Find out more about our events and actions on our Policy and Practices page.


To evaluate the feasibilty of our project before has become reality we generated generated a mathematical model based on laboratory and literature data.



The iGEM Team Braunschweig presents a novel approach towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions: We are going to equip the model organism Escherichia coli with the soluble methane monooxygenase (sMMO), an enzyme complex enabling methanotrophs to use the greenhouse gas methane as sole source of carbon and energy, hence creating our methane degrading E. cowli.


While designing our project, safety naturally was a very important issue for this year’s iGEM project. Issues in biosafety as well as gas health and safety were addressed.


Everyone who is interested in how we spent our iGEM summer, feel free to have a look at our Notebook, where we put together a documentation of our lab work.


By contributing BioBricks to the iGEM Registry of Standard Biological Parts so that other teams can use them in the future, we live up to the basic ideas of the iGEM competition.

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