Creation of novel synthetic biological parts for bioremediation
This research project, in association with the Defence Science Institute, uses standard biological parts to design new components and create microbial biosensors for the detection of heavy metals in the environment. The components of the synthetic biological sensors will be tested in a range of microbial chassis and include light, pigment, fluorescence and electrical output by the microbes. These biosensors not only have potential in environmental sensing but will also broaden the availability of microbial chassis available to the synthetic biology community.
Designing microbial biosensors to detect environmental pollutants
Our Synthetic Biology research program has received recognition through ARC linkage project funding to develop a project that will be titled “Synthetic Biology Derived Electroactive Whole Cell Microbial Biosensors”. This project is a collaboration between Dr Ashley E. Franks (La Trobe University), Dr Maurizio Labbate (UTS), Dr Sarah Strycharz-Glaven (NRL) and Dr Jermont Chen (AOARD).
To develop and integrate electric bacteria as biosensors for the detection of heavy metals in the environment using synthetic biology. Novel and natural biological parts, termed ‘biobricks’, will be utilized to program bacteria to provide an integrated electrical signal when they are in the presence of toxic compounds. This expansion of synthetic biology, and integration of electric bacteria into sensor systems, will result in a new platform technology that expands our abilities to protect the ecology, agriculture and health of terrestrial and marine envrionments.
Mining for genetic elements in novel microbial populations
As part of our synthetic biology work, we run research projects that investigate unique microbial communities for new genetic elements that can be fed into the syn-bio production line. Presently we are mining electricogenic biofilms and rhizosphere-associated communities from Australian native heavy metal hyper-accumulators and high diversity tropical ecosystems.
From the left: Sanja Aracic (Postdoc), Lara Bereza-Malcolm (PhD), Lachlan McDonald (Hons, 2014), Ruban Kannan (Hons, 2015)