Engineering a PLA factory in E. coli by multiplex recombineering and accelerated evolution

In 2013, Yale iGEM attempted to develop a more efficient method for the biosynthesis of poly(lactic acid) (PLA) from E. coli through the use of multiplex automated genome engineering. This method would lower both the economic and environmental costs of synthesizing PLA in a way that could revolutionize the biomaterials industry. Unfortunately, conventional methods of synthesizing PLA chemically are quite expensive: one gram of pure PLA costs around $90. Moreover, even though it is mostly manufactured from corn, the processing and purification steps use many chemicals that are toxic to the environment. Building off of previous work whereby E. coli was genetically engineered to produce PLA, Yale iGEM sought to improve PLA yields and PLA chain lengths for potential commercial applications. Yale iGEM sought to use multiplex automated genome engineering (MAGE) to improve both the yield and chain length of biosynthesized PLA. This work would pave the way for a biosynthetic route for PLA synthesis in future commercial applications. 

Regional Achievements

  • Silver Medal
  • Qualified for World Championship Jamboree

International Achievements

  • Silver Medal
  • Oral and poster presentation at 2013 International Jamboree

For more information about the project, please visit our 2013 wiki!