Washington University in St. Louis 2011


The 2011 WashU iGEM team is researching the capability of baker's yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to produce the compounds β-carotene and β-ionone. By manipulating the enzymatic pathways associated with the compounds and incorporating them into yeast, we hope to find an efficient means of infusing vitamin A, a derivative of β-carotene, into food items. Our research may ultimately stimulate the advancement and production of healthy food supplements similar to "golden rice".

β-ionone, derived from β-carotene, is an aromatic compound characterized by a rose scent and is a contributing ingredient for many perfumes. Production of β-ionone in a widely-available organism has the potential to improve the efficiency of obtaining this fragrance for the perfume industry.

Our team has been vigorously working throughout the months of June, July and August and we hope that our research will be put to good use!

The Project's 5 major components

1) Using PCR to attach a restriction site and yeast plasmid homology to our four unique cassettes (selective markers).

2) Using PCR to attach a restriction site and yeast plasmid homology to the genes involved in our enzymatic pathway.

3) Performing a restriction digest and ligation process to connect the genes and cassettes together such that we get Homology---Gene---Restriction + Restriction---cassette---Homology.

4) Transforming our final gene/cassette product into yeast. Then through yeast mating and sporulation, we hope to successfully create transgenic yeast that can produce β-carotene and β-ionone.

5) Using assays, we ultimately test for the production of β-carotene and β-ionone and the efficiency of this pathway.

For a more detailed overview of our experimental plan, please see our modeling page here.