Team Groningen aims to develop a solution to help lowering ammonia emissions
Every year, the University of Groningen composes a multidisciplinary team of students who compete in the international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. iGEM is an international competition in biotechnology aimed at finding new solutions to current global and local societal issues. For the second time the team consists of students of the UG’s Faculty of Science and Engineering and students of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. The team aims to develop a solution to help lowering ammonia emissions.
The team will defend their Bye-monia project in the final online competition, which will be held from November 4 to 15.
Team Groningen 2021
This year the Groningen team is addressing the nitrogen crisis. The Netherlands is producing excess nitrogen, which is harmful to nature and biodiversity. One of the main culprits for this so-called nitrogen crisis is animal agriculture, a vital income source for the Dutch economy. The project of the Groningen 2021 team targets ammonia emissions contributing to the crisis and aims to convert them into a beneficial feed additive. Saccharomyces spp. have been engineered to synthesize alpha-amylase, an enzyme that optimizes cattles’ digestion. This way, their milk production and growth will be enhanced while ammonia emissions will be reduced simultaneously. Residual ammonia will be captured by a state-of-the-art filter device, a Metal-Organic Framework (MOF), and fed back to our GMO. Furthermore, insights from artificial intelligence will be employed to optimize the engineering process.
As a part of the competition, students are asked to connect science to the broad public. Therefore, the Groningen team of 2021 has a very dedicated Human Practice team that works on deeply understanding the problem and contacting stakeholders that are involved in the topic (e.g. farmers). Additionally, creating education and scientific outreach material is important to make science more accessible. To achieve this, the team has designed and written a series of comics that explains synthetic biology in a plain and simple manner. These comics can be found
The iGEM competition is a global event allowing more than 360 student teams from all around the globe to have an opportunity to find solutions for real-world problems by using synthetic biology. Synthetic biology is an area of research that seeks to create new biological parts, devices, and systems, or to redesign systems that are already found in nature.
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