gEco ' Geco animation

Won Bronze Medal at the Giant Jamboree

Pollutants in the biosphere pose a major threat to most organisms. Our project seeks their containment through detection and capture. Current technologies like PTR-MS aren’t cost effective and have limited deployment. Luckily, our practical alternative (gECO) bypasses these limitations, by harnessing the power of millions of years of evolution, coupled with a few months of ingenious genetic engineering (different cassette for different substrates). Inspired by control systems engineering, gECO utilizes positive feedback loops to increase sensitivity and negative feedback loops to ensure stability, thereby ensuring the detection and capture of various toxic substances. The co-culturing of these engineered E. coli with naturally existing microbes (that can utilize these noxious substances) ensures their consumption. The hardware integration is deceptively simple: paper strips with LB and glycerol (in a particular ratio) house the engineered E. coli. On contacting water, the cells activate expressing chromoproteins in proportional measure to the external pollutant concentration. Overall, the setup is lightweight, aesthetic, cost effective, ensures detection, capture and consumption of various toxic substances.


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