Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Nicole Xin L&S Biological Sciences

Adapting GLamouR, a Lanthanide Biosensor, for In Vivo Use

Lanthanides (Lns), part of the Rare Earth Elements, are critical minerals for clean energy, defense, and consumer electronics, but they are environmentally and financially costly to extract and purify. Methylotrophic bacteria naturally acquire and transport lanthanides for alcohol metabolism. The model methylotrophic bacterium, Methylobacterium extorquens AM1, accumulates low and high molecular weight Lns through growth with methanol, but our understanding of the constraints of their bioaccumulation is still limited. GLamouR is a synthetic fluorescent sensor for Lns that was designed for in vitro use, and as such, has only been tested as a pure system. I aim to construct genetic tools to adapt GLamouR to sense Lns in vivo with M. extorquens AM1 in order to test 1) if extracellular Ln concentration affects uptake; 2) if lanthanide solubility affects uptake; and 3) if light and heavy Lns are differentially bioaccumulated. This will allow for real-time bioaccumulation assessment, a valuable tool that can aid in the discovery of new genes and proteins involved in Ln bioaccumulation, which could improve the efficiency of biomining and biorecycling technologies.

Message To Sponsor

Thank you so much for providing this opportunity for me to be able to pursue my own independent research project! Your support will allow me to continue to develop my skills as a researcher and help me delve deep into a scientific question I am very passionate about. I am so grateful for all your support and I am very excited to be in the lab this summer!
Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
Mentor: Norma Cecilia Martinez-Gomez
Sponsor: Various Donors
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