Erin Reynolds

Erin  Reynolds
MIT CEE Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scholar
Advisor: Angela Belcher
Department: CEE
Areas of Research: Synthetic Biology
Years: 2016-2017

Bioengineering Yeast for Heavy Metal Cleanup

Bioremediation using bioengineered brewers yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) has the potential to be an inexpensive, environmentally benign, and efficient treatment technology. S. cerevisiae has been shown to naturally accumulate a variety of metals, and bioengineering techniques can be used to greatly enhance the metal binding and accumulation processes of the yeast. We plan to develop three strategies for enhanced bioremediation using yeast: 1) surface adsorption using metal-binding proteins or peptides, 2) internal metal accumulation by manipulation of metal transport proteins and the vacuolar and golgi storage systems, and 3) hydrogen sulfide precipitation of metals on the surface of yeast.

I learned most of the basic techniques such as molecular cloning, culturing, ICP-MS, microscopy, etc. Now I am ready to take a bigger part in planning experiments and analyzing data. I am excited about this project because I get to manipulate an organism at the genetic level and the application of this project is to make more efficient and sustainable heavy-metal treatment technologies.