These days, the whole bioeconomy is dependent on one valuable resource: sugars. No matter if they are produced from starch or cellulose, they always originate from plants. But while the global demand for carbon sources is growing, the arable land is shrinking and droughts are more frequent.
At iGEM Aachen, we aim to make the bioeconomy independent from plant-derived sugars. We do this by teaching E. coli to use methanol as a carbon source and convert it to glycogen, the bacterial equivalent to starch.
Therefore, we introduce a synthetic pathway, implementing it in vivo for the first time.
For this kind of metabolic engineering research, chemostat cultivation of candidate strains is essential. However, traditional continous cultivations are very costly and not affordable for everyone. To solve this problem, we are developing a do-it-yourself bioreactor with very low culture volume. This bioreactor is accompanied by hardware and software that is cost-effective and user-friendly.
Concering the DIY principle of our modular selfmade bioreactor we established contacts to community labs to discuss about the developement of the European Community Lab Scene.
Regarding biosafety in the lab we tested and discussed our new documentation system with other teams to explore the technology and experiences.