5. Targeting Bacteria for Biosensing and Bioremediation of Oil Spills

5. Targeting Bacteria for Biosensing and Bioremediation of Oil Spills

Lynmarie Thompson (Chemistry) and Mingxu You (Chemistry)

Bacteria have the ability to sense chemicals in their environment and to use this information to direct their swimming. The ability to engineer this chemotaxis process would enable us to develop bacteria as sensors for environmental pollutants and to direct oil-consuming microbes for bioremediation. Our approach to this goal is to use DNA structures to control the assembly of the protein complexes that direct bacterial chemotaxis.

DNA-mediated assembly of chemoreceptor complexes: An REU student in the Thompson lab will link chemotaxis proteins to DNA oligonucleotides. These oligonucleotides will assemble into a DNA structure that positions the chemotaxis proteins to assemble into a functional complex with native geometry.

Aptamer binding-controlled DNA structures: An REU student in the You lab will develop a DNA aptamer for binding a desired target molecule (eg hydrocarbon pollutant). This aptamer will be incorporated into a DNA structure such that ligand binding is required for assembly of the DNA structure

Collaborative effort: The two REU students will work together to demonstrate and optimize the use of the aptamer-linked DNA structure for ligand-controlled assembly of functional chemotaxis complexes.