Plant Vs HCHO

Our Team: Brilliant Guys

Plants: Transgenic Tobaccos

Super Plant: Plants vs HCOH

Safety: Operation

Human Practice

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With the rapid society development, a large amount of pollutants are full of our daily life. Nowadays, chemical materials are widely used in our surroundings indoor, such as building materials, paint in new apartments, artificial adhesives in numerous household products and etc, which may lead to excess release of formaldehyde in closed space. Exposing to the substantial formaldehyde may cause irritation, allergic asthma and neurasthenia, as well as carcinogenesis. Nowadays, people mainly get rid of the formaldehyde by increasing the rate of ventilating or using air purifier in those polluted spaces. However, these methods show some limitation, and cannot degrade formaldehyde safely and effectively.

To get the inspiration for the design of our project, we did a survey of the knowledge concerning formaldehyde pollution. The results showed that people paid high attention to the indoor formaldehyde pollution, and preferred to adopt a safe and environmental friendly method to decrease the concentration of formaldehyde effectively. A methodology by using green plants got the highest score among all provided approaches. Based on the results of this survey, we decided to use synthetic biology strategy to design a super plant that can remove formaldehyde safely and effectively.

After doing sufficient literature research, we got to know that there is a formaldehyde-fixation pathway in methylotrophs which is called ribulose monophosphate (RuMP) pathway. HPS and PHI are the two key enzymes in this pathway. Besides, there is a formaldehyde folate-independent pathway in some certain plant species. FALDH and FDH play an important role in this pathway. In our 2014 iGEM project, these two pathways were integrated through the methodology of synthetic biology. For this, formaldehyde metabolism related genes from both methylotrophs and plants were transferred into tobacco to rebuild a new formaldehyde metabolism pathway in our super plant.

To further increase the degradation efficiency of formaldehyde, we co-expressed gene AHA2, which is original from Arabidopsis thaliana, to regulate stomata opening. In addition, by taking into account of biosafety of genetically modified organism, we introduced the gene of cysteine protease into our super plants. The transgenic tobacco pollen will be aborted while cysteine protease gene is specifically expressed in tobacco tapetum.

With more and more achievements have been harvested about the super plant, we organized various activities such as questionnaire survey, school seminar series, video making, etc, to vigorously promote synthetic biology, iGEM and our super plant. Along with the happy summer vacation, we had completed our project successfully with the efforts of all members. Let's meet at MIT and share each other's achievenments.