Gold Medal, Advance to International Jamboree
Waste Water Treatment: Engineered Biofilm for Better Performance in Bioreactors for Water Regeneration
Biofilms are adherent aggregates of microorganisms that develop on surfaces. They can be found in a multitude of natural circumstances (for example, the bottom of streams, inside of plants, and on teeth) and can be utilized for tasks such as water treatment. In water treatment, water is run over the biofilm, and microorganisms absorb and digest undesirable compounds. The force of the water can cause part of the biofilm to break off and become a sludge that must later be removed.
A silica barrier on the exterior of the biofilm would help to prevent sludge while still allowing the biofilm to function. Furthermore, a silica coat would act as a mechanical filter to remove any large particles from the water. In order for this silica coat to form, silica binding protein (SBP) needs to be expressed on the surface of the microorganisms. Our objective is to develop a device in Escherichia coli that will induce the expression of adhesion proteins to facilitate biofilm formation and will induce the production of SBP after a biofilm has formed.