We created new E.coli which hunts and eats insects. As such we named it Carnivorous E.coli. Carnivorous E.coli emits light when it is hungry. This will attract insects to it. Then, it secretes a viscous substance to capture the insects. The captured insects are digested by the chitinase in the secretion. Long story short, our Carnivorous E.coli can hunt!

Team Hunger

Carnivorous E.coli attracts insects by emitting light, but it is a burden for E.coli. To reduce this burden, we use nitrogen regulatory proteins, NtrB and NtrC. They activate σ54 promoter when the supply of nitrogen is not enough.

Team Capture

There are many methods to attract bugs, for instance, using pheromone, smell, and light. In this study, we focused on light as a method to lure insects. Carnivorous E.coli will emit light and attracts bugs like glowworms by using Bioluciferase from 2010 Cambridge.

Team Digestion

An insect body is covered with a hard integument containing mainly chitin. To decompose the integument, we used ChiA gene, which encode chitinase. In order to measure the chitinase activity of the culture supernatant, we evaluated the effects of the medium and cell growth.


  • We confirmed that the wavelength of light emitted by E.coli is suitable to lure drosophilas.
  • We constructed new biobrick which produces chitinase.
  • We constructed new biobrick that is controlled by the concentration of glutamine.
  • We established new method for measurement of promoter activity with RPU.
  • We held the Japanese iGEM meeting at Kyoto University.

Human Practice

As synthetic biology is a comparatively new way of understanding life, we plan to develop this area much further. However, this area entails problems of bioethics and so we must consider these problems as well. Unfortunately, Japanese high school students do not have many chances to come across these topics. We hope to offer high school students more opportunities to think on them. That's why we targeted them and performed these activities.


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