Our goal of the project is to alleviate and solve the global plastic pollution problem by increasing the PET degradation rate using our dual-enzyme system. Our two enzymes, PETase and MHETase, existing in the forms of chimeric protein or enzyme cocktail would digest PET plastic into its constituting monomers, which can be foreseen as a solution to the global plastic pollution crisis in the future.
Our team selects non-pathogenic classis for usage. They are safe strains of Escherichia coli called DH5α and C41(DE3) to transform recombinant plasmids - pET21b (+). It carries the protein-coding sequences to produce the protein chimeras. Both of the E.coli strains that we choose have no harm on humans nor the natural environment. As PETase is toxic to E.coli, using the strain C41(DE3) allows the expression of toxic proteins, so that our protein chimeras can be expressed.
The chimeric proteins are then extracted and purified for use. Thus no genetically engineered bacteria are released into the environment.
All organisms involved in our experiments pose no serious risks even if escaped from the lab. No hazardous chemicals are used in our experiment. We utilized antiseptic techniques and used Bunsen burner to maintain sterility of the workplace and experimental apparatuses. Our project does not involve pathogenic organisms and animals. Our lab is of low risk and it has safety systems in place, for example eyewash bottle and fire extinguisher. The waste that is generated throughout our project will be disposed of in the biohazard bin.
Our team's PI is an experienced biology teacher and is fully capable of overseeing student members and maintaining lab safety. Also, all student members in our team will only do experiments in the lab under the supervision of our team's PI and a qualified lab technician. Our team members have also received formal safety and security training.