Fight the Blight
Defending the potatoes
The 2015 NYMU iGEM team presents a potato defense system, an effective system that can be easily implemented by potato farmers all over the world. This system is made up of three parts: protection, detection, and cure.
Our system consists of potatoes resistant to Phytophthora infestans, an oomycete that causes potato late blight, by creating a competitive inhibitor that can prevent the effector protein secreted by P. infestans from entering the potato cell. In case that the potatoes we genetically modified cannot fend off the P. infestans, we designed a soil based microbial fuel cell (SMFC) with engineered bacteria on the anode of the SMFC that can detect whether the potato tuber is infected or not. If the potato is infected and detected by our SMFC, we will spray defensin, an antimicrobial peptide isolated from maca (Lepidium meyenii). The defensin can weaken and inhibit the growth of P. infestans without doing harm to the environment and human body since it does not contain heavy metals like most fungicides.