BIODIVERSITY NEEDS SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY
Revive & Restore was founded with the mission to enhance biodiversity through the genetic rescue of endangered and extinct species. What began in 2012 as a rousing idea to use modern gene-editing techniques to bring back extinct species has grown to encompass a new genetic rescue toolkit for conservation. Thankfully, rapid advances in synthetic biology and biotech provide hope for conservation breakthroughs, biodiversity, and our planet.
YOUR IGEM TEAM CAN HELP
You’re invited to join our pursuit of biotech conservation innovations. There are many ways synthetic biology can create tools for conservation. In the span of the iGEM year, what will your team do? Could you create a synthetic bait for fisheries? Generate pollutant remediating microbes? Use fish stem cells to make organoid chips for functional genomics testing? Or develop a pathway to genetic bio-controls of sea urchins? These are just a few examples. Pick a problem in conservation that you want to solve. It’s up to you!
EXAMPLES OF SYNBIO IN CONSERVATION
Synthetic replacement for the horseshoe crab
Synthetic rFC provides an alternative to LAL that could reduce horseshoe crab harvests by 90% or more. Is there another gene your team can use to develop a synthetic alternative and save a species?
In 1997 researchers cloned a single gene into a plasmid and invented Recombinant Factor C (rFC). It is now poised to replace horseshoe crab-derived limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL), in pharmaceutical testing. It is an essential test—but the harvest, bleed, and release process kills up to 30% of the crabs.
Horseshoe crabs spawning season, at Cape May, New Jersey.
Blight Resistance for the American Chestnut Tree
Revival of the American chestnut could help restore Eastern forests with an essential species. What genetic pathway—bestowing a species with resistance to an invasive fungus, animal, or plant—might your team discover?
In 1904 a blight nearly wiped out the American chestnut—a tree so large it was called the “Redwood of the East.” Researchers at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry have genetically modified the American chestnut to be resistant to the fungus. If released, it will be the first transgenic tree in the wild.
Students propagating blight-resistant American chestnuts.
SPONSORSHIP AND SUBMISSION DETAILS
Revive & Restore will award a $5,500 grant (USD) to up to 12 teams that meet our conservation criteria. This sum will be provided to help kick-off your team project and will offset the iGEM 2020 regular registration fee. We’ll also provide sponsored teams with a “kick-off” call as well as project feedback.
Your project must be focused on solving a problem in conservation. Your proposal should outline how your tool might help biodiversity, from improving the fitness, survival, or habitat of a species, to helping the environment better support wildlife. Use a creative, ambitious goal to develop the first small, scientific steps to get there.
OPEN TO ANY TRACK
Is your team a good fit for a Revive & Restore? Probably! While the Environment track is the most obvious choice for conservation, we are open to all tracks—as long as your project solves a problem for conservation. For example, a Food and Nutrition team might have a great idea for controlling an invasive weed. While this could be used in agriculture, to qualify for our sponsorship, your project would need to benefit a native plant and/or animal species. If there is a benefit to conservation, we’d love to hear from you.
DEADLINE UPDATE: SUBMIT PROPOSALS BY MAY 25, 2020
- The submission deadline is Monday, May 25 at 11:59 pm, PDT (UTC -7)
- Our selection of up to 12 teams will be announced the week of June 1
- Please see important iGEM dates on their official site
SEND PROPOSALS AND ANY QUESTIONS TO [email protected]
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
HOW DOES A PROJECT QUALIFY AS A CONSERVATION PROJECT?
It’s simple. Your project must be focused on solving a problem in conservation. Your proposal should outline how your synbio tool might increase or protect biodiversity—from improving the fitness, survival, or habitat of a species, to improving the environment in a way that supports wildlife.
WHAT SHOULD WE INCLUDE IN THE PROPOSAL?
It will be best to include the conservation problem you are trying to solve, to which species this would apply, and/or how your synbio tool will increase or protect biodiversity. You may wish to include the details of your experimental plan, the potential applications in the field, and biosafety considerations for using your technology in a natural setting. If your project would benefit a specific species, be sure to tell us.
WHY HAS YOUR DEADLINE CHANGED?
Because of COVID-19 both iGEM and Revive & Restore have decided to give students more time to assess their situation, find funding, and form a project plan. The iGEM registration deadline is May 15. We have extended our proposal deadline to May 25.
DOES MY TEAM NEED TO REGISTER WITH IGEM FIRST?
Yes. By the time we review the proposals, your team will need to have registered for iGEM.
HOW DOES THE SPONSORSHIP WORK?
If we select your team for sponsorship, iGEM will refund your group the full iGEM registration fee of $5,500. We are sponsoring up to twelve iGEM teams this year.
IS THERE A PREFERRED FORMAT FOR PROPOSALS?
While there is no specific format, we request that proposals be 1-2 pages in length. Simply send an attachment or paste the proposal into an email and send it to [email protected].