What are you working on this semester?

Our project is to develop the perfect acidity level for plants which need to live in acidic levels (such as Tomatoes and Strawberries). It utilizes a pH sensing and modifying bacteria to monitor the environment of planting soil for tomato plants. The goal is to chain a pH sensor to turn on a hydrogen pump, effectively acidifying any area deemed too basic.

What impact does/will your project have on the public?

This bacteria could replace the common use of directly applied acids. The benefits would include a self sustained system that constantly monitors and adjusts pH for an ideal environment. Additionally, it removes the necessity to have to deal directly with acids (which may be an undesirable experience) and cuts the majority of the effort involved with modifying soil pH.


(abandoned for lack of expertise and resources)

What are you working on this semester?

This semester, we are working on engineering a bacteria with a pH sensor that will activate a gene in the presence of gastric acid (pH of 1.5 to 3.5). The gene will then allow the bacteria to excrete a base or stomach mucus to help neutralize the gastric acid in the esophagus, which is the leading cause of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

What impact does/will your project have on the public?

Similar to TUMS tablets, our bacteria helps relieve the pain cause by Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Some symptoms that we hope to relieve include heartburn, difficulty swallowing, and chest pain. To make the medicine more easily administered, it will take the form of a solution that can be taken either before or after a meal. One significant advantage of the biological engineering method is the ability to create sustainable bacteria. This will allow the administration of the bacteria to be preemptive in addressing the symptoms GERD, as opposed to the current system of administration after the onset of symptoms. The bacteria will have a pH sensitive promoter and activate at a low pH, when the patient has acid reflux. The bacteria will secrete calcium carbonate into the biological system that increases the pH. Lastly, a terminator will kill the cell so it does not acidify to dangerous levels.

Our modified project will make plump tomatoes for delicious salads.