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Project Description

Cadmium (Cd) is a toxic heavy metal which has no known biological function. Ingestion of Cd-contaminated water can induce diarrhea, severe vomiting, bone fracture, Itai-Itai disease, infertility, damage to the central nervous and immune systems, cancer development and ultimately death. For instance, in late 20th century Japan, cadmium contamination of water in the Jingzu River led to significant kidney problems and Itai-Itai bone disease in a fairly large population. Of late, cadmium levels have been better controlled by industrial regulation, but it still poses formidable problems especially in developing countries where there is little regulation of industrial waste products. The goal of our project is to create a low-cost bio-sensor by using the metal ion homeostasis system of Bacillus subtilis to quantify environmental levels of cadmium in drinking water. Since B. subtilis has genetic elements that naturally respond to different concentrations of metal ions, it is an excellent system to serve as our bio-sensor chassis.