Team:UCSC/Applied Design


After successfully inserting the synthesis pathways for acetaminophen and vitamin B12 into Synechococcus elongatus 7942, we plan on transferring our model to the GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status cyanobacteria, Arthrospira platensis. Our pathway modifications should be readily transferable, allowing our engineered products to be made in a nutrient dense, widely consumed bacteria.

Image sourced from Ethanol Producer Magazine, "Green Expectations"

Large scale photosynthesis-driven bioreactors can be productive in locations where traditional crops could not otherwise be grown.

The implementation of this idea requires completing of a thorough genetic system for Arthrospira platensis. Our team has gone so far as to prepare an axenic culture of Arthrospira platensis UTEX 2340 for whole genome sequencing. Among other faculties, this will allow in depth analysis of Arthrospira platensis foreign DNA defense systems and improve transformation protocols with this GRAS status cyanobacterium.

Further improvements will be made to optimize product synthesis with the sampling of mutant strains of Arthrospira platensis, different promoters, optimized enzymes and growth conditions.

Further next steps entail development of low-cost semi-continuous bioreactors and fulfillment of GRAS status application requirements.Post perfection of our product, Bugs without Borders looks to international distribution. To do so, a partnership with Doctors without Borders and reconnection with our international contacts would initiate effective permeation into isolated rural communities on a global scale. High efficiency solar-powered lights and batteries could be used to power photosynthesis in dark times while producing oxygen and engineered products grown in vitamins rich bacteria.

INTERSTELLAR IMPLEMENTATION Image sourced from "Instructables"

Solar powered bioreactors have the potential to be implemented in nearly any setting, including space.

Other possibilities for product implementation lie in the future of interplanetary travel. Space exploration and settlement missions will look to minimize their dependence on Earth and become self-sustaining. Libraries of engineered cyanobacteria could be freeze dried for immediate biosynthesis of pharmaceuticals[1], fuels[2], and foods[3]. Other medicine production pathways such as opioid synthesis would be explored in this scenario for a fully sustainable pharmacy.

  • [1] Gantar, M., & Svirčev, Z. (2008). Microalgae and Cyanobacteria: Food for Thought1. Journal of Phycology, 44(2), 260–268.
  • [2] Nozzi, N. E., Oliver, J. W. K., & Atsumi, S. (2013). Cyanobacteria as a Platform for Biofuel Production. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, 1.
  • [3] Vijayakumar, S., & Menakha, M. (2015). Pharmaceutical applications of cyanobacteria—A review. Journal of Acute Medicine, 5(1), 15–23.