This year, the TU Delft iGEM team is going to build a new molecular toolbox for a wide range of microorganisms, this would consist of a plasmid independent of the host machinery. Currently scientists are limited to using only a few organisms which have been well characterized. However, there is so much biodiversity out there that we are incapable of utilizing.
As a result, we are developing a tool that would greatly lower the barrier for any scientist, academic or industrial, to explore novel microorganisms. Since this construct is independent of the host machinery, an immediate application that has come to our minds for this toolbox is the capability of mutating genes without affecting the rest of the host’s genome, and thus to perform in vivo evolution of specific genes in a faster way than traditional methods allow nowadays, and at the same time without the requirements for attention and manual labour that in vitro evolution requires.
With this system we envision a tool for directed evolution that will speed up this process while not requiring constant selection and screening methods after every round of mutagenesis.