Team:Carnegie Mellon/Description


We built a light.

Project Description.
Engineered sensors are all around us. Biological systems contain natural biosensors that can be utilized to monitor the environment and health of ecosystems and the individuals within them. A critical part of building a sensor is the ability to detect and measure the output. To enable the design and fabrication of DIY biosensors, we are creating instructions on how to build a low cost luminometer and fluorimeter. The precision, accuracy, and sensitivity of the instrument will be demonstrated using a set of luciferase and fluorescent protein reporters.

The luminometer is a simple photodiode detector with the signal being integrated using an Arduino and output data being processed with open source software. The fluorimeter is an extension that includes an LED light source and emission/excitation filters appropriate for the fluorescent protein to be analyzed. The entire light path is encased in a 3D printed shell.

To test the luminometer, the luciferases from Gaussia princeps, Renilla reniformis and Photinus pyralis were codon optimized for E. coli and expressed from a strong constitutive promoter. The Gaussia luciferase was extracellularly targeted. Fluorescent proteins including blue, green, yellow, orange, and red with different promoter strengths and an estrogen biosensor are used to calibrate the fluorometer.

To engage the public about synthetic biology and iGEM, we have developed a BioLight powered by luciferase. For education purposes, a light (with parts) and plans for the fluorimeter were provided to the “The Citizen Science Lab” in Pittsburgh and we are hopeful that this will excite the community to start building.

Click here to see our poster!