Project

nanoFactory: Recycling metal resources - Every particle matters!

Goal: Copper, silver and gold - metals are essential for our daily life but resources are dwindling. Industrial mining of metals and electronic waste cause pollution of the environment. Therefore, we established new approaches to recover valuable resources through synthetic biology. By enhancing bacterial abilities to scavenge metal ions from the environment we generated nanoparticles. We optimized Escherichia coli to accumulate metal ions as copper and iron by overexpression of dedicated importers and silencing of exporters while reducing the effects of oxidative stress. To gather nanoparticles from various metal ions we engineered the iron storage protein ferritin. Recycled into nanoparticles the metals could be used for various applications as demonstrated by printing electronics. Considering Dual Use aspects we decided to extract metal ions from pit water instead of dissolving electronics directly. Therefore, in close collaboration with leading experts we developed a customized cross-flow bioreactor for the mining industry.

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Project log

Erika Schneider
added a research item
Final project poster from team Bielefeld-CeBiTec 2018 (nanoFactory) for the presentation at the iGEM Giant Jamboree 2018 from October 24th to 28th in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Erika Schneider
added a research item
A set of presentation slides to give an overview on the topics Biosecurity, Dual Use and Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC). We encourage everyone to use the open source slides to spread awareness and prevent issues concerning this topics.
Erika Schneider
added 2 research items
Nanoparticles can be used for a wide range of applications. Especially if used in the medical field they need to be free from toxic chemicals, which are used in the conventional way of nanoparticle formation. Therefore, our goal is to use synthetic biology to create a way of generating environmentally friendly nanoparticles. Our Escherichia coli take up metal ions like iron, copper, silver or gold ions to accumulate them in the periplasm and the cytoplasm. To prevent metal ion export, several genes need to be silenced. Besides using knock-out strains, which are created using CRISPR/Cas9, we aim to introduce a two-plasmid system working with siRNA to ensure a essential minimal expression of some genes. In addition, our E. coli they have several optimized mechanisms against the toxicity of metal ions. Within the cell the ions get accumulated and reduced to nanoparticles. These nanoparticles will be isolated from the cells and could be used in different way. Our proof of concept will be the printing of electric curcuits for electronic tattoos out of nanoparticle ink consisting mainly of our self-produced nanoparticles.
Nanoparticles can be used for a wide range of applications. Especially if used in the medical field they need to be free from toxic chemicals, which are used in the conventional way of nanoparticle formation. Therefore, our goal is to use synthetic biology to create a way of generating environmentally friendly nanoparticles. Our Escherichia coli take up metal ions like iron, copper, silver or gold ions to accumulate them in the periplasm and the cytoplasm. To prevent metal ion export, several genes need to be silenced. Besides using knock-out strains, which are created using CRISPR/Cas9, we aim to introduce a two-plasmid system working with siRNA to ensure a essential minimal expression of some genes. In addition, our E. coli they have several optimized mechanisms against the toxicity of metal ions. Within the cell the ions get accumulated and reduced to nanoparticles. These nanoparticles will be isolated from the cells and could be used in different way. Our proof of concept will be the printing of electric curcuits for electronic tattoos out of nanoparticle ink consisting mainly of our self-produced nanoparticles.
Erika Schneider
added a project goal
Copper, silver and gold - metals are essential for our daily life but resources are dwindling. Industrial mining of metals and electronic waste cause pollution of the environment. Therefore, we established new approaches to recover valuable resources through synthetic biology. By enhancing bacterial abilities to scavenge metal ions from the environment we generated nanoparticles. We optimized Escherichia coli to accumulate metal ions as copper and iron by overexpression of dedicated importers and silencing of exporters while reducing the effects of oxidative stress. To gather nanoparticles from various metal ions we engineered the iron storage protein ferritin. Recycled into nanoparticles the metals could be used for various applications as demonstrated by printing electronics. Considering Dual Use aspects we decided to extract metal ions from pit water instead of dissolving electronics directly. Therefore, in close collaboration with leading experts we developed a customized cross-flow bioreactor for the mining industry.