...mining started in the South West of England, with a particular focus in Devon and Cornwall, and only stopped as recently as 1998. The natural resources extracted brought great riches to the region, but have left a legacy of devastating environmental consequences.
Today, the consequences...
...are more evident than ever. A significant number of heavy metal ions are still found to be leaching from the mine sites into passing waters. Not only does this affect the surrounding flora and fauna, but there is potential for the pollution, if unchecked, to find its way into contact with humans.
...we took inspiration from the role of pili in bacterial pathogenicity. These hair-like structures have evolved the capability to bind to mannose molecules on cell surface membranes. While these pili were improving in E. coli , metallothioneins, capable of binding to numerous heavy metals, were developing in cyanobacteria and in mammals. Our role was to bring these elements together.
Contained in a tripartite filter system...
...our GMOs help the environment without doing any harm. A hydrocyclone is a cheap and economical solution for separating larger particles from the inflow. A metal binding reactor houses our bacteria and is placed between a biosecurity mechanism preventing bacteria from entering and our bacteria from escaping the filtration system.
Meet Pili+ ...
...and see how E. coli, housed inside a small, contained, cheap filter unit can bind heavy metal ion pollutants with foreign metalliothioneins fused to the terminal protein of proteinaceous hairs on the cell surface.
Best Environment Project Overgraduate
Best Applied Design Overgraduate
Learn about what we did this summer
During the summer we worked in the lab to produce modified type I pili in a suitable E. coli chassis.