Team:Imperial College London/Alternative


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The desertification of drylands is an increasing problem exacerbated by factors including unsustainable agricultural practice, deforestation, and climate change.

Degraded land is prone to erosion as soil is washed or blown away.

Eventually the barren soil becomes cracked and dry, leaving it unproductive. (Click the image to learn more)

Project AuxIn aims to help fight desertification by promoting plant root growth using engineered bacteria. Re-vegetation is one of the most effective ways to prevent soil erosion. The project consists of three modules – Phyto-Route, Auxin Xpress, and Gene Guard. (Click the image to learn more)

Summary of the 3 modules

We plan to implement the AuxIn system into a seed coat. (Click the image to learn more)

Module 1 – Phyto-Route: Engineering bacteria to move towards the roots where they can be taken up by the plant. (Click the image to learn more)

Module 2 – Auxin Xpress: Engineering bacteria to produce indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), a plant growth hormone, to promote root growth. (Click the image to learn more)

Module 3 – Gene Guard: A safety mechanism to prevent transfer of plasmid DNA from our engineered bacteria to natural soil bacteria, once released into the environment. (Click the image to learn more)

The pre-coated seeds would be planted in areas at risk from desertification.

As the seeds begin to germinate, the bacteria will move towards the roots, be taken up and secrete IAA, thus stimulating root growth and promoting soil stability.

In the future, the hope is for land treated with our bacteria to become fertile again.

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