iGEM Leiden 2023: PHAse Out microplastics from our diet

October 16th 2023

Did you know that, every single day, we unknowingly consume 5 grams of microplastics? It doesn’t come as a surprise that us humans aren’t meant to be consuming these microplastics. That’s why the 2023 iGEM Leiden team, PHAse Out, is dedicatedly working on a solution to combat these microplastics from our diet.

Why are microplastics bad for us?

Consuming microplastics doesn’t sound good to most people. However, plenty of people have no idea what the actual effects of consuming these microplastics can have on our health.

To put it simply: the food we eat has usually been, one way or the other, in contact with microplastics. These microplastic have the ability to absorb undesirable chemicals. That means that when we consume microplastics, we are also consuming chemicals like heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (a toxic chemical) and pesticides. This results in increased exposure to these chemicals, which might lead to poisonous effects.

iGEM Leiden is dedicated to PHAse Out plastic

The iGEM Leiden 2023 team consists of 13 enthusiastic students from the University of Leiden. Coming from various disciplines, the team strives to PHAse Out plastic. With the help of synthetic biology and the biodegradable plastic ‘PHA’, the team has a clear mission: removing all microplastics from our diet.

The biodegradable plastic, PHA, occurs naturally in bacteria as a form of energy storage, in a similar way to how humans store extra energy in fat cells. Due to this, PHA can also be broken down by bacteria, making it biodegradable. Using PHA in agriculture has the benefit of leaving no microplastics for plants to absorb. This makes them an exciting solution for agricultural applications.

How can you help?

Teams that participate in the global iGEM competition are responsible for their own finances. To be able to participate in this competition, and to to procure lab materials, the team needs €9800. Will you help them achieve their goal of removing microplastics from our diet and win the 2023 iGEM competition?


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