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About Social work

This year, our social work is divided into two directions, one direction is which area our project is good for, the other direction is to find what benefit our project can bring to the community. We mainly contacted the staff of the government (EPA), Industry ( Iron and steel plants), state-owned enterprises (sewage treatment plants) and private enterprises (heavy metal processing companies) to carry out surveys and assessment of our project. During the process of the survey, we are constantly adjusting our ideas and direction under the premise that our project is really good for our planet.

Contact with the Ministry of Environmental Protection

Contact with the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

To find out whether the things we do is really useful to the world, we must first investigate the seriousness of the problem to be dealt with, so we visited the highest environmental authority in China's government departments: the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection. A functionary of the State Environmental Protection Department told us that Yangtze River whose water quality was the best of all the rivers in China had been polluted by heavy metals, and among 21 cities near the river, 6 of them's heavy metal accumulation percentage reached 65%. This result is not optimistic, so the control of heavy metal pollution is imminent.

Prof. Hongyan Qu

At the same time,we also consulted the professor of School of Environmental Sciences of Tianjin University-Qu Hongyan, she told us that the research of removal of heavy metals from groundwater was a very important issue.

Email from prof. Hongyan Qu.

Translation of the email.

After talking with her, we decided to carry out our topic in this area. While carrying out the project, we went to some places involving heavy metal treatment, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, life / industrial sewage treatment plants, heavy metal processing companies and state-owned enterprises such as steel mills, hoping to get some advice, according to which we could adjust our experimental direction.

the situation we saw in Sewage treatment plant - Pingdingshan Kangxing Environmental Protection Water Limited Company

the situation we saw in Sewage treatment plant - Pingdingshan Kangxing Environmental Protection Water Limited Company

Life sewage treatment plants used multiple-bacterial system to settle heavy metal down, to which our project could be utilized. But the leader told us that its ability to settle down the heavy metal was very low because these bacteria were intolerant of metals. Because China's sewage treatment plants generally do not have technology to deal with heavy metal, once the content of heavy metals in water exceeded the standard, treatment plant will stop all process and submit the sewage to the government, which will make the efficiency and the benefit of sewage treatment plant very low. If the sewage treatment plant have the genetically modified yeast we have done, they can have a higher efficiency.

The Survey of Zhongtiao Mountain Heavy Mental Factory、Steel Group Wugang company in Henan Province, and telephone conference with Environmental Protection Agency

Zhongtiao mountain heavy metal factory.

First of all, we visited the Zhongtiao Mountain Heavy Mental Factory and iron plant, learned that all the waste water would be discharged into a large place called "tailings", similar to the artificial lake , built in sparsely populated area.
We learned that the EPA was responsible for the treatment of the tailings, so we contacted the local EPA, hoping to explore the benefits of our bacteria could bring. the EPA disclosed that microbiological treatment was unusual. And the tailing used physical method which was of high cost and low efficiency. What's more, tailings had service life, and physical method could not completely settle heavy metal down. So if we use biological treatment, we can make the tailings return to the original state and we can recycle the heavy metal in it.

ZhongKeDingShi heavy metal treatment company

China State science Dingshi environmental engineering CO.,LTD

And then we had a telephone conference with the doctoral of heavy metal processing company, he told us that the most common approach was using physical and chemical methods, biological method was not common because bacteria needed oxygen, nutrients and energy, which is a big cost. The most important thing is that there is no such high microbes with high resistance to heavy metal, so microbial methods were difficult to achieve, although it was friendly to the environment. So we introduced them our genetically modified SCRAMBLE strain and they showed a interest in our subject, and he told us that if our strain were able to achieve high resistance, it would be more environmental friendly and economical than physical and chemical methods.

About safety

Doctor Yi Wu

Our problem about safety is that, in order to obtain highly tolerant strains, we are using yeast with synthetic chromosome 10, which has many cre-loxp sites to make it mutate, so that if the artificial modified strains leak, they may be mating with the wild-type yeast, Their offspring may have the artificial chromosome. In this regard, we consulted some experts in this area.
Yi Wu
We asked Dr. Wu Yi, the main person responsible for the synthesis of chromosome 10, and he told us that it was possible to exchange genetic information with wild-type yeasts, but this was far from gene drive. He also recommended to us an article that they had published in the genome research on ethics and biosecurity. In the article, the writer emphasized the importance of biosecurity that you couldn't ignore even the smallest difference between synthetic phenotype and wild-type, but in the meanwhile, the writer believed the future of synthetic biology was bright. So we decided that we won't promote our project as an application but as a fully considered idea.

The professor of Tianjin Huanghe institution -Li Yuanying

We also consulted the staff of the Huanghe institution-Li Yuanying who was an expert in evaluating the safety of projects. She told us that if the modified microbes leaked into the natural environment, it would easily lead to gene drift. It might also have a long-term impact on other species. It was recommended that we should carefully read the policy regarding to genetic engineering. We listened to the proposal of Li Yuanying and realized that our engineering strain was likely to have an impact on the environment, so we decided to only promote our project ideas and innovative points. Only promote this project when we find ways to inhibit their leakage.

Communication of Five schools

We had a meeting with the team of NKU, TUST, JLU and NPU. At the meeting we showed our experimental ideas and the leader of NPU pointed out that we could add a lethal gene which could make the synthetic yeast die when it was mating with wild-type yeast. We thanked them for their comments and were looking for the best solution.

Group photo of team leaders.

Group photo of team members from five schools.


Jef.D.Boake is talking about Synthetic Biology .

On June 10th, Jef.D.Boake came to TianJin University to give a speech about Synthetic Biology. During the speech, our leader-Mingzhe Han asked him the ethical issues of SCRaMbLE, he answered that the future trends of SCRaMbLE were very likely to go in the higher biological direction, but at the present, many people might not be able to accept this kind of major breakthrough in synthetic biology. But with the time changes, maybe one day this could be acceptable even of great help for people. He also suggested us to do some investigations for our safety, comprehensive our project.


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