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


In this year’s iGEM project we, the iGEM Team Braunschweig, fought global warming right at the source - the digestive tract of cows. We developed an approach to reduce the emission of the important greenhouse gas methane using a genetically engineered bacterium - E. cowli.
E. cowli uses the enzyme soluble methane monooxygenase (sMMO) isolated from M. capsulatus. We were not only able to express all subunits of sMMO in soluble form but could also prove the activity of the whole enzyme complex in the heterologous host organism E. coli. However, this was not as trivial as it may sound - proper folding required coexpression of molecular chaperones.
Besides the successful expression and proof of activity, we developed a practical application for the designed E. cowli to degrade methane before it gets emitted. This application included the immobilization of E. cowli into an alginate matrix resulting in many beneficial and advantageous effects such as a user-friendly dosage, high cost-efficiency, easy production from renewable ressources as well as the biodegradability of the product.

  • Cloning and Expression
  • Cloning and Expression

    The first step of our experimental procedure was the isolation of the methane-degrading soluble methane monooxygenase from the host organism Methylococcus capsulatus. See how this worked out!

  • Delivery
  • Delivery

    To make E. cowli accessible for future applications we had to find a way of introducing it into the cow’s rumen where it is supposed to degrade methane. Take a look at our unBEADables here!

  • Activity
  • Activity

    What use would E. cowli be if the methane-degrading enzyme was not active? To prevent this scenario and show the functionality of the complex we had to perform activity assays with our modified bacterium.

  • ILS
  • Interlab Study

    Although we are not in the Measurement track we participated in the first worldwide Interlab Study and thus helped to characterize the strength of different promoters in collaboration with other teams.

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