Fuzhong Zhang, PhD, of the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis, has received a Young Investigator Program award from the Office of Naval Research to fund his synthetic biology research.
Cyanobacteria are attractive organisms for the bio-production of fuels, chemicals and drugs but have the drawback that most strains in common use grow slowly. This week scientists at Washington University reported that they have recovered a fast-growing strain of cyanobacteria from a stored culture of a cyanobacterium originally discovered in a creek on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin in 1955. The new strain grows by 50 percent per hour, the fastest growth rate ever reported for this type of bacteria.
Himadri B. Pakrasi, PhD, received a $49,448 grant from the National Science Foundation to support the “Indo-U.S. Workshop on Synthetic and Systems Biology” being held this November in New Delhi. Pakrasi is the Myron and Sonya Glassberg/Albert and Blanche Greensfelder Distinguished University Professor and director of the International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability (I-CARES).
Much of modern agriculture relies on biologically available nitrogenous compounds (called “fixed” nitrogen) made by an industrial process developed by German chemist Fritz Haber in 1909. Himadri Pakrasi, PhD, a scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, thinks it should be possible to design a better nitrogen-fixing system. His idea is to put the apparatus for fixing nitrogen in plant cells, the same cells that hold the apparatus for capturing the energy in sunlight. The National Science Foundation just awarded Pakrasi and his team $3.87 million to explore this idea further.
Engineer Tae Seok Moon has made the most complex logic circuit ever assembled in a single bacterium. The logic circuit, in which genes and the molecules that turn the genes on or off function as logic gates, the simple devices that form the basis for electronic circuits, is one step in an effort to make programmable bacteria that can make biofuels, degrade pollutants, or attack cancer or infections.
Competing against 130 teams from across the world, a team of six undergraduates from the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis took silver in the foundational advance category of the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition this year. The WUSTL team built a genetic sequence that once inserted in a yeast cell would signal whether the cell was growing with or without the sugar galactose by fluorescing either yellow or cyan.