PHEAST for phuture
Synthetic biology can be employed develop sustainable solutions to some of the problems in the world addressed by the UN sustainability goals. The PHEAST project is centered around SDG 12 and SDG 13. Essentially, PHEAST seeks to make scientific and technological advancement to provide sustainable solution to deal with the potent greenhouse gas methane providing a platform for sustainable production of heterologous protein contributing to a circular economy. With PHEAST we provide a quick start user manual for engineering K. phaffii to the iGEM community and the scientific world allowing for both deletion and insertion of genes. The toolbox provides a huge potential, and it comes with a great responsibility for scientist to use it for good. Furthermore, we provided readily available expression cassettes for converting K. phaffii to methanotrophic.
On our journey to understand our projects climate impact we engaged with relevant stakeholders. Among those are Unibio, a company which produces single cell protein in a methane fermentation using the bacterium Methylococcus capsulatus, a similar setup to how we intended to implement our methanotrophic K. phaffii.Their work proved to us that methane indeed could be used as a feedstock in commercial fermentation processes and gave us advice for how the fermentable setup could be employed. Furthermore, we engaged with the Alexandre Hucelmann and llaria Ciabattio, Civil Servants for EU Heal and Food Safety, to discuss the prospects for the EU legal framework regarding GMOs. We intended to implement our project locally at small scale at methane releasing site to increase the environmental impact. However, as there is currently no initiative to change legislation for transgenic organisms, we had to think of a way of fermenting K. phaffii from methane. Our suggestion was to depend on the methane network.
Potentially in far future, the construction of a methanotrophic yeast as PHEAST can serve as a solution to counteract methane emitted to the atmosphere. Among the 17 SDGs we here present how PHEAST apply into the context of 7 of these significantly increasing the good for the world.
The second goal is centered around food security and improved nutrition. With our project PHEAST, K. phaffii can be engineered to produce food substitutes and help to nourish an increasing global population. The proteins produced by our cell-factory can also be used to preserve food and therefore reduce food waste.
Affordable and clean energy
The seventh goal is concerned with sustainable and modern energy. Through our project we contribute to the transition away from fossil-based towards bio-based energy generation which will overall support advances in almost all Sustainable Development Goals.
Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Goal number 9 encompasses three aspects of sustainable development. With our new innovation, we prompt the development of new skills in synthetic biology, while also promoting the biological industry as a much more sustainable alternative than the petrol industry. Our innovation is a green and sustainable technology which will do good for the world.
Responsible Consumption and Production
To develop as a society as a whole, new products and technologies are necessary, especially in order to deal with the growing world population. With PHEAST we can achieve a circular economy by using a waste product, methane and make valuable products with application areas in food, feed, bioplastics etc.
Implementation of actions against climate change are strongly recommended to ensure the achievement of other Sustainable Development Goals. Methane is not only a waste stream but also a terrible greenhouse gas with enormous effects on the environment and global warming. With PHEAST we give a tool to hand which can convert methane into valuable products and so reduce the effect on climate change.
Life on land
Through the assimilation of methane in genetically engineered K. phaffii it will be possible to halt biodiversity loss and decrease the rising sea level due to global warming. This will make a life on land livable, also for future generations.
Partnerships for the goal
During the duration of our project we encouraged communication between communities, politicians, scientists, industrial stakeholders but also other iGEM teams to ensure mutual understanding and knowledge sharing for a sustainable future.