Team:St Andrews

Reef-Safe Probiotic Sunscreen


We, the St Andrews iGEM team, are using synthetic biology to create Shinescreen: a probiotic, sustainable sunscreen that poses no harm to the marine environment. Instead of containing the toxic, coral-degrading chemicals found in many commercially-available sunscreens, Shinescreen makes use of shinorine: a natural, non-toxic, UV-protecting compound already produced by a number of marine organisms.

During our iGEM project, our team will be engineering the (non-pathogenic, FDA- approved) Nissle 1917 E. Coli bacterium to overexpress shinorine, such that this bacterium could confer UV protection to the user upon its application to the surface of human skin. Through engineering the bacterium in this way, our Shinescreen project eliminates the use of environmentally-damaging chemicals - thus introducing a reef-safe alternative to many of the sunscreens currently found on the market.


The inspiration for our project was drawn from the previous phase 2 project and we, therefore, continued carrying the core value of preserving marine life, SDG 14, in our human practice work. Additionally, in the light of the latest IPCC report as well as the upcoming COP 26 in Glasgow, our human practice activities and the project was more important than ever.

Through the conduction of stakeholder interviews, our sunscreen case study, collaborations and educational efforts we integrated our human practices into our project and showcased the significance of our work for the world. Our human practice work also shaped our entrepreneurial and educational work and approach to Shinescreen as a future product.


The University of St Andrews iGEM team 2021 is comprised of an interdisciplinary team of 9 students and 2 supervisors. In addition, we got expertise from several academics at the university, collaborated with other iGEM teams, and support from our sponsors.