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The Minty Green Heavy Metal Detecting Machine: An Arsenic Biosensor!

Our Problem: We have heavy metals in our environment that can be harmful to the community, but we do not yet know which bodies of water or areas they are in.

Primary Objective:

Heavy metals, such as arsenic, can be present in seemingly safe water environments. These metals are harmful to people and other organisms when they are exposed to them. Our team's primary objective is to create a device using synthetic biology to detect arsenic in water and give an instant reading to the presence of arsenic. Arsenic is a harmful to organism that use phosphorus in organic molecules because arsenic can replace phosphorus in organic molecules. This can occur because arsenic has similar characteristics as phosphorus.

Secondary Objective:

Our team's secondary objective is to use our iGEM arsenic biosensor to test different water sources.

Further Considerations

Ideally, our engineered bacteria would be able to indicate the arsenic levels based on light and odor intensity. When the promoter is activated with the presence of arsenic, RNA polymerase is able to travel down the DNA of the GFP gene or the Wintergreen odor gene. The odor will allow one to immediately detect arsenic, while the creation of Green Flourescent Protein will create light that can be measured quantitatively.