Nature’s Machines: Biohacking Evolution to Destroy Pollutants

25/01/2016 - 5 minutes

The Concept of artificially ‘Driving Evolution’ is as contagiously controversial as it is captivating for Biotechs, DIY Biologists and iGEM teams alike. How can we harness an ‘Evolution Machine’ for the Greener Good and ‘create’ microbes to break down pollutants?

open-evolution-biohackingAt the Digital Biology (“Do it Together”) Conference last week (a European consortium for DIY Biologists and the Biohacker Community), Johann Bauerfeind told us of his new project; the Humboldt-University based ‘Open Evolution Machine‘.

It is well known, identifying novel sources of innovation in Nature is a key ‘mining’ territory for Biotechnology, particularly in the case of extremophiles. These are such organisms which have adapted mechanisms to withstand extreme (and often very unstable) environmental conditions – from Thermophiles (bacteria able to operate at extremely high temperatures) to microscopic animals such as the moss-loving Tardigrades (my personal favourites, known as Bärtierchen in German).

Exploiting such proteins and mechanisms these Extremophiles offer us (through naturally driven mutation in their genomes) is essentially a ‘Gold-Mine’

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