WHAT IF STUDENTS RAN THEIR OWN RESEARCH PROJECT?
The Aalto-Helsinki 2023 is a multidisciplinary and international team consisting of 10 students from the University of Helsinki and Aalto University. We are excited to participate in the world's largest synthetic biology competition iGEM with our diverse team with background in various fields of biosciences and technology. Our aim is to develop an innovative and impactful synthetic biology project that advances scientific research and benefits society.
To help up in this, we have the support of our PIs Heli Viskari, Aalto University lecturer, Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems,
and Markus Linder, Aalto University professor of Biomolecular materials.
Additionally, we have been supported by staff scientist Sesilja Aranko, academy research fellow Rahul Mangayil,
postdoctoral researcher Salla Koskela, and
doctoral researcher Natalia Kakko from the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems, Aalto University,
and postdoctoral researcher Alesia Levanova from the Molecular and Integrative
Biosciences Research Programme, University of Helsinki.
A full list of people who have shared their time and knowledge with us will be available in the attributions page of our wiki.
Plastic pollution and food scarcity are major global challenges. Our project aims to provide a sustainable solution to address these issues by developing a proof-of-concept approach to upcycle polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into single-cell proteins.
PET hydrolases are promising biocatalysts for the development of enzymatic PET degradation. One such PET hydrolase, IsPETase, was discovered back in 2016 from a novel bacterial strain isolated from a Japanese landfill (Yoshida et al., 2016). Since then, new variants such as FAST-PETase have been developed, and have been shown to exhibit improved enzymatic activity (Lu et al., 2022). Furthermore, the degradation products have potential to serve as carbon sources for natural and genetically engineered microbes alike (Tiso et al., 2022).
In the first stage of our project, we focus on enzymatically depolymerizing PET into ethylene glycol and terephthalate. In the second step, the aim is to explore microbial strains that can utilize these monomers as carbon sources.
More details of the project can be found in our wiki, which will be updated throughout the project.