Help UMD iGEM Save Oysters
Who We Are
iGEM, which stands for International Genetically Engineered Machine, is an international competition consisting of over 250 teams which seeks to promote student research in the field of synthetic biology. Undergraduate-led teams assisted by faculty members are tasked with seeking potential solutions to real world problems by designing and building biological systems, such as biosensors and biosynthesis pathways. The standardized genetic constructs that each team produces are called BioBricks, which are open access and available from the iGEM Parts Database.
As UMaryland iGEM, we are a team of 15+ undergraduates, led by four faculty mentors. Our backgrounds range from biological sciences to chemical engineering, and we hope to build momentum off our successful first year as we look forward to this year's competition!
What We're Doing
Currently, we are focusing on issues inherent to Maryland. Our first project, which we began last year, is to design an E. coli biosensor for Perkinsus marinus, the oyster pathogen behind the disease Dermo. P. marinus is capable of infesting the Eastern oyster, leading to the oyster's decay and eventual death. Dermo disease is highly contagious, spreading rapidly throughout an oyster population. Due to rising pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, P. marinus has become a burgeoning issue, one that requires a multi-pronged solution.
We hope to be able to engineer a real-time, portable detection system for rising infection risks. By being able to detect Dermo infections in real-time, oyster farmers will know which oysters to quarantine as soon as possible, minimizing the spread of the outbreak.
As part of our human practices efforts, we plan on visiting local organizations interested in Chesapeake Bay health and oyster biology, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, local oyster farms, and the Department of Natural Resources. These visits are all part of our survey efforts as we measure local interest in our biosensor.
In addition to our first project, we are currently planning a second project in synthetic biology that hopes to improve current biosynthesis techniques. This project is currently in the planning stages by this year's iGEM team.
Why We Need Your Help
We hope to present our results to a worldwide audience at the International iGEM Jamboree, held annually in Boston, Massachusetts. However, we’ll need your support to get there! Currently, we are in need of support to fund our work in the laboratory, along with our trips out into the local community. We'll also need support to get as many of our members as possible to the Jamboree! Please consider donating and supporting our efforts to help the community through synthetic biology!
Thank You Very Much!
Click below to visit our wiki detailing our P. marinus biosensor project!
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