Students synthesizing bacteria to create islands out of garbage
The ocean is full of crap, and it’s our fault. We’ve been dumping crap into it for centuries, so it’s not surprising that some areas boast 335,000 pieces of floating junk per square km. Cleaning it all up by hand isn’t feasible, so a group of students are trying to engineer synthetic bacteria to do the job instead.
The bacteria will be customized with three genetic ‘modules’: module one is detection, which uses a human oestrogen receptor that binds to different types of plastics. Once the bacteria finds itself some plastic, the aggregation module kicks in, inducing the bacteria to to extrude a sticky substance. Gradually, all of the little tiny bits of sticky plastic will glom on to each other, forming ‘islands' that float up to the surface and can be easily collected and recycled, or stuck to each other to make a giant garbage island that is apparently suitable for habitation by monkeys.