MnDRIVE-funded iGEM team turns mercury into gold

Undergraduate team takes home two honors from international competition

The iGEM – International Genetically Engineered Machines – competition challenges undergraduate students to identify real-world problems and solve them through biological engineering and design. Not only did the University of Minnesota’s team win a Gold Medal award at the 10th annual competition, held in Boston, Mass. Oct. 30 to Nov. 3, they also were awarded Best Environment project. And if that were not enough, they also filed with the university’s Office for Technology Commercialization to begin the patent process for part of their project.

Focusing on the bioremediation of the heavy metal mercury from contaminated water, Team Mntallica pulled students from microbiology, chemistry, engineering and business. The team of undergraduates spent four months creating a bacterial strain capable of detoxifying methyl mercury, along with an improved water filtration device.

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