Engineering E. coli for PO43- bioremediation with genes from polyphosphate-accumulating organism Microlunatus phosphovorus.
Water phosphate concentrations greater than 25 µg/L are known to drive the growth of harmful algal blooms, which compromise water quality and cost global industry more than ten billion USD in damage annually. To improve phosphate management, we transformed genes putatively responsible for inorganic phosphate transport and polyphosphate synthesis from the polyphosphate-accumulating organism (PAO) Microlunatus phosphovorus into E. coli and characterized their functions. Concurrently, we designed and built a suite of cost-effective phosphorus reclamation modules (PRMs) around xerogel-immobilized cells for contained, multipoint phosphate bioremediation. With continued testing, we expect to see an increased dry-mass percentage of phosphorus in our chassis relative to unmodified E. coli, elucidate cell viability and function within our xerogels, and understand the effective lifespan of our constructs. Through genetic, chemical, and mechanical engineering, we provide a means for preventing harmful algal blooms in both developed and developing countries.