(Hover over and click on the filterdrawing to get to the seperate subgoals.)
Methane (CH4) is the second most prevalent emitted greenhouse gas on earth. Today we are facing the challenge of solving this problem of high methane concentrations in the atmosphere that leads to global warming. The global warming potential of methane is about 84 times higher than that of carbon dioxide (CO2) when compared over 20 years. Technical methods to reuse emitted methane gas are cost- and time- intensive and therefore rarely used.
The goal of our project is to develop an Escherichia coli (E. coli) based model that filters methane out of the air and converts this into biomass. First part of the project is to break down methane to methanol with the enzyme complex soluble methane monooxygenase (sMMO) of the methanotroph Methylococcus capsulatus expressed in E. coli. In order for the multisubunit enzyme complex to break down methane to methanol, oxygen and iron-ions are required. Second part of the project is to convert methanol into biomass using the Ribulose-Monophosphate (RuMP)- pathway and establish this pathway in E.coli. The pathway is found in the methanotroph Bacillus methanolicus and enables E. coli to convert methanol into biomass.
To test the functionality of the modified E. coli, the bacteria will be grown in a closed system under methane rich conditions. Additionally, a filter will be created that can contain the modified E.coli and can filter the surrounding air through the system, so that the methane can be broken down. The filter could be used in areas where methane emission is a problem.