Students seeking citizen geneticists
Members of the public have the chance to take part in a groundbreaking student-led experiment to tackle the problem of disposing of slowly-degrading polystyrene.
A group of undergraduate students in our School of Biological Sciences are taking part in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition and hope to genetically engineer a new organism which will quickly break down polystyrene waste.
They want to find examples of bacteria which degrade polystyrene faster than those we have already discovered, and these may be found in your own back garden. The team will then locate the parts of the microbes DNA which give them this trait, and aim to transfer these genes to the new bacteria that they create.
In exchange for a £2.50 donation to the project, volunteers will
receive a kit containing a piece of polystyrene which they can simply bury in
their garden, allotment or plant pot and leave for several months before
sending it back to the team in a postage-paid envelope. Sign up for the project via their website.
The participant who uncovers the most active polystyrene-degrading bacteria will be invited to have their name included on a research paper at the end of this project, and runners up will receive an "Official Citizen Scientist" iGEM t-shirt.