The Methane Predicament
Methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide, is one of the leading causes of global warming. In the United States, landfills, cows, natural gas systems and other sources of pollution emit an amount of methane that has the same effect on global warming as 60 million households. Currently, there is no cost effective way of removing methane from the atmosphere. Due to methane’s adverse effects on the environment, the government has ordered landfills to fund the construction of large systems of pipes to collect and burn their methane. Unfortunately, cows, natural gas systems, and most other sources release methane in dilute quantities that cannot be controlled. This allows methane to accumulate in the atmosphere, where it traps harmful radiation, contributing to global warming and deteriorating the health of our planet.
How We’re Taking Action
This year, UMaryland iGEM team seeks to mitigate global warming by finding a more effective way to degrade methane using biology. In nature, microorganisms called methanotrophs eat methane from the atmosphere, but they are very fragile and inefficient. Using the approach of synthetic biology, which views organisms as machines that are programmed by DNA, our team aspires to borrow parts from methanotrophs to construct a more effective biological machine to remove methane. If our project succeeds, we will have created a new type of cell that can consume methane at the source, whether it be a landfill, a cow, or a natural gas system.
What You Can Do Help
The UMaryland iGEM team is led by its students and has shown exceptional promise with its gold-medal winning projects in previous years. Everything from choosing the research project, to purchasing lab equipment, to engaging the community in our research rests on the shoulders of our undergraduate members. Our team therefore depends upon the generosity and support of the University of Maryland community in order to make our research and outreach goals come to fruition. Your donations will also allow us to travel to the annual iGEM competition held in Boston, where we will present the results of our hard work to an international panel of leaders in the synthetic biology community.
Gifts in support of the University of Maryland are accepted and managed by the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, Inc., an affiliated 501(c)(3) organization authorized by the Board of Regents. Contributions to the University of Maryland are tax deductible as allowed by law. Please see your tax advisor for details.