For those who are unfamiliar with iGEM, it stands for the International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation . iGEM’s mission is to promote the advancement of synthetic biology, and the development of an open community and collaboration. iGEM runs the iGEM Competition– an international competition for students interested in the field of synthetic biology and the Registry of Standard Biological Parts – a growing collection of genetic parts used for building biological devices and systems.
The iGEM Toronto team consists of undergraduate students who are working on a summer project that will be entered into the iGEM Jamboree in October at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The team is developing a synthetic biological sensor for detection of gold using a cell-free paper based construct using the gold-sensitive transcriptional activator, GolS, and a reporter gene. When the transcriptional activator is activated by gold the reporter gene will cause a visual change in the colour of the paper and act as a visual indication of the presence of gold. To complement the paper, the team will be designing a mobile app that will use colourimetric analysis and deep learning to determine the concentration of gold in the sample based on the colour gradients given by the reporter gene. Finally, the team will be designing a deep learning pipeline to discover novel gene clusters that are homologous in function to gold resistance and accumulation.