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Cyano Killer

                                                             Duke Kunshan University DKU iGEM Team 2021

Background Information:

Algal bloom is becoming a severe environmental issue around the world. It produces dense coverage on the surface of the water and releases a poisonous gas mixture that causes an imbalance in the underwater ecosystem. Species that roam in the area may have limited or no access to oxygen, in which deaths may occur. Human health may also be affected due to the water quality and the chemicals in the various ocean species.
The hydrodynamics method is particularly effective for blooms of buoyant cyanobacteria.
    1. Artificial mixing changes the oxygen content and temperature of the water, as well as gives a vertical mixing rate to the water so that diatoms and green algae can replace the dominance of cyanobacteria. But it is expensive.
    2. Use chemical algaecides including metals with the mode of action based on cell toxicity, using hydrogen peroxide, and other chemicals. The chemical measures are used in emergencies and often encounter problems with their aftereffects including killing plants that are not targeted.


The peptide HPA3NT3-A2, composed of 15 amino acids, has algicidal effects against Microcystis aeruginosa. The researchers speculate that HPA3NT3-A2 is able to penetrate cyanobacteria cells by electrostatically binding to lipids, triggering cell aggregation and division. The greatest advantage of HPA3NT3-A2 as a biological method for bloom treatment is that it is environmentally friendly. It can be biodegradable in the natural environment and is considered to have a highly specific effect on M. aeruginosa, without an algicidal effect on other algae.


    1. HPA3NT3-A2 is synthesized chemically rather than biologically.
    2. Analysis of the impact of HPA3NT3-A2 and other organisms in the ecosystem is still necessary


Synthesis, Prediction, Spread
    1. Synthesis: we use bacteria to synthesize the algicidal peptide and load it to the nanoscale exosome that is also produced by the bacteria to become a highly efficient and targeted measure to terminate urgent ongoing cyanoHAB.
    2. Prediction: Using the unified model with the information of algae distribution, drug diffusion and algicidal efficiency to assist us making an accurate drug delivery plan.
    3. Spread: we developed a drug delivery system that has flexibility so that it can fit the water surface with the bloom which usually has an irregular shape.