The iGEM student competition team at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is looking for funding to bring their project to the next level. They’re developing an innovative solution that helps reduce the ecological impact of the cattle industry. Since February, a team of ten motivated master and bachelor students of WUR participate in the worldwide synthetic biology competition iGEM. They are supported by a team of supervisors in the Laboratories of Microbiology and Systems & Synthetic Biology.
This year, the team works on an innovative biofilter targeted to reduce ammonia and methane emissions from cattle stalls. These gasses are harmful to both the local and global environment. Ammonia deposition contributes to loss of biodiversity, whereas methane is a potent greenhouse gas that adds to climate change. Their solution, called Cattlelyst, is an air filtration system that relies on genetically optimized microbes engineered to convert these gasses into harmless forms.
The team has been developing the biofilter in the scientific foundation, as well as the theoretical design and its societal embedding. They started by developing computational models to predict several aspects of the system and are currently performing experiments in the lab to validate their designs and physically create the envisioned microbes. The students each execute a piece of the project as part of their studies.
Team member Sophie van der Vlugt: "To be able to develop and validate our solution, we need to perform experiments in the lab. The materials, enzymes and machines that we use for that are expensive and we need to pay for that ourselves. In addition, we need to pay the fees for entering the international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. That is why we have been reaching out to companies asking for sponsoring in the form of supplies, licences for programmes or financial support. Additionally, we have started a crowdfunding campaign to help us realize this.
By contributing to our project, people can help us alleviating the impact that the cattle industry has on the local and global environment.” To support the team and their project financially, please visit the crowdfunding page. For exchanging ideas or questions, feel free to contact them via email.