Cornell University

Assembly Line

Multiple Rounds of In Vivo Random Mutagenesis and Selection in Vibrio natriegens Result in Substantial Increases in Rare Earth Element Binding Capacity

📅 Date:

✍️ Authors: Sean Medin, Anastacia Dressel, David A. Specht

🔖 Topics: Materials Science

🏢 Organizations: Cornell University

Rare earth elements (REE) are essential ingredients to many technologies including catalysts, high-efficiency lighting, and lightweight high-strength magnets found in hard drives, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and many other applications. These magnets often utilize multiple REE such as neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium. The demand for these technologies is rapidly increasing, and the corresponding supply of REE needs to increase with it. Current methods of purifying REE utilize solvent extraction, which often requires high temperatures and harsh chemicals, giving these important elements a high carbon and environmental footprint.

Adsorption, or biosorption, of REE onto bacterial cell membranes offers a sustainable alternative to traditional solvent extraction methods. But in order for biosorption-based REE purification to compete economically, the capacity and specificity of biosorption sites must be enhanced. Although there have been some recent advances in characterizing the genetics of REE-biosorption, the variety and complexity of bacterial membrane surface sites make targeted genetic engineering difficult. Here, we propose using multiple rounds of in vivo random mutagenesis induced by the MP6 plasmid combined with plate-throughput REE-biosorption screening to improve a microbe’s capacity and selectivity for biosorbing REE.

Read more at ACS Synthetic Biology