iGEM HU Berlin

Project (English)

Chlamylicious - the plastics degrading algeaButton Deutsch



flasche_igem.pngUsing state-of-the-art methods of molecular biology we want to enable a freshwater alga to degrade the widely used plastic polyethylene therephtalate (PET). The products formed by this process could then be used for synthesis of new PET. Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, the alga used in our project is a well-established model organism, which can be cultured and modified at low costs. The algae's capability of photosynthesis poses an environmental-friendly and sustainable solution for the great threat of plastic pollution.



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Mithilfe moderner genetischer Methoden versuchen wir unsere Vision umzusetzen
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Unsere kultivierten Chlamy-Kolonien
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Unser Ziel: Das Designen eines Plasmids mit PET-abbauenden Enzymen nach dem MoClo-Standard



The issue with plastics

Plastics, and especially PET, are commonly used in our everyday life. Since textiles, packaging material and varied building materials rely on or consist of plastics, the consequences of its usage grow more and more threating to us and our environment. The natural degradation of PET takes up to 450 years. Plastics pollute our whole environment and most gravely: water ecosystems. Gigantic plastic accumulations in the oceans and microplastics in rivers and lakes are regularly featured in the media.


Our Goal

Therefore, our ambitious goal is set: combating plastic pollution caused by the widely used polyethylene therephtalate (PET) and conducting research on an environmentally-safe plastic recycling method.



Polyethylene therephtalate (PET) can be degraded into ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid (TGA) using the two enzymes PETase and MHETase. These enzymes already exist in the bacterium Ideonella sakaiensis. In our project, we want to equip the freshwater alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii with the capability of producing both these enzymes. The animation below visualizes this process.


Chlamydomonas als umweltfreundlicher Bioreaktor

One way of efficiently using Chlamydomonas reinhardtii for plastic degradation could be as a self-built bioreactor. An additional advantage of C. reinhardtii is its capability of fixating carbon dioxide through the dark reaction of photosynthesis. For this reason, we are already working on concepts for such a bioreactor.