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The Toluene Terminator

Investigating Toluene Remediation In-Situ

Toluene is a toxic substance used in petrol, paint, paint-thinners and adhesives and through spills and improper disposal, toluene has contaminated soil and ground water environments. Using microorganisms to clean up toluene contaminated sites can be an effective and economical way of mineralizing the pollution into water and carbon dioxide before it can spread throughout the environment. However, microorganisms engineered to degrade toluene are not currently used for remediation due to social concerns. They may becoming an invasive species and upset the balance of the ecosystem or they may transfer beneficial genetic material to a pathogenic strain. We engineered the Toluene Terminator as a way to clean up the toluene pollution while addressing these concerns. It has the capabilities of sensing and degrading toluene but this terminator will not be back. The Toluene Terminator has a suicide mechanism which helps prevent the bacteria from surviving in the absence of toluene.


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