iGEM Team Aachen 2017

Salt Vault

Storing Ions In Yeast

Our Project

Freshwater is running shorter and shorter. Vast areas in Northern Africa and Asia dry up due to climate change. Although two thirds of the worlds surface are covered with water, most of it is unusable. The problem: Salts, mainly NaCl, make seawater unusable for humans.
But did you know that we in Western Europe are affected as well?

The river Werra in Central Germany carries 2,5g/l of Chlorideions, 10 times the concentration of drinkable water. The cause: Industry. Many industries like the Potash- and Lithium- production or Chloride chemistry pollute their wastewater with salts. In many cases the ions end up to be in our rivers and groundwater.

To confront this growing, and worldwide existing issue of watersalination we are, with the help of synthetic biology, creating cells, which are capable of taking up and storing salts from the water.

In Detail, we are using the baker yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model organism and modify the Na+ and Cl- Pathways over the plasma- and vacuolar membranes genetically. In conclusion, the uptake of salt into the vacuole will be increased, meaning we use the cells as microbial dustbins within the water, which can be filtered off energy-efficiently afterwards.