We are a research team composed of ambitious undergraduate students solving real-world problems using synthetic biology and micro-robotics. Our current vision is to develop an ethylene induced synthetic bio bot.

Members of the research team

To kick off this new technology, the team has set their sights on applications to the world of hydroponics.  Growth parameters in the macro-sphere of hydroponics have already been automated, so we want to help control the microsphere to promote plant growth. To do this, we have theorized an ethylene induced reduction system aimed at the growth of tomato plants.

Ethylene, a natural stress promoter in plants, is secreted under waterlogged conditions similar to those in a hydroponics bay. This secretion event stops the growth of the plant and instead focuses its efforts on the stockpiling of nutrients in cells. To create an automatic ethylene reduction system we will develop: 

  • A water borne bacterium equipped with the tools to create an ethylene degrading enzyme, ACC Deaminase
  • An on-and-off switch actuated by different forms of light
  • An ethylene biosensor

Once implemented, our system will “trick” the plant into a state of low stress, thereby promoting its growth in a hydroponics bay environment.

We welcome collaborations with enthusiastic undergraduate students, professors, and graduate students interested in this field, and are open to feedback on our design! Please email Claire Murphy (ClayrMurphy@gmail.com) and Megan Dawson (meganmeidawson@gmail.com) for any inquiries.