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ASU iGEM 2023: β-FluorinX: PFAS Bioremediation

Raised toward our $5,000 Goal
2 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on September 15, at 11:59 PM MST
Project Owners

Synthetically Engineering E. Coli to degrade toxic "forever" chemicals.


Inclusive student driven education and research in synthetic biology, applying the engineering principles of design, build, test to biological systems solving the most challenging problems facing our communities.



ASU iGEM 2023 is comprised of students on a wide variety of educational pathways where we work to maximize the unique skills and knowledge of our diverse team to design an entire research project from start to finish to compete on an international stage.

 The iGEM Foundation, an independent non-profit, hosts an international synthetic biology competition where over 400 teams from 65+ countries are encouraged to develop projects for the education and development of a collaborative synthetic biology environment. Not only are teams challenged to solve problems, but to look at the bigger picture beyond the lab bench to biosafety, biosecurity and fostering a sense of responsibility to our communities and the world at large.


This year we aim to engineer bacteria to aid in the bioremediation of per/poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in our environment. PFAS are a large class of chemicals with very desirable water-resistant properties leading to their use in many everyday commercial products. These chemicals, once believed to be inert are actually shown to cause harmful health effects and their unique structure leads to a challenging remediation process that typically takes filters and large amounts of energy to destroy the chemical. Our bacteria, lovingly called β-FluorinX aims to solve this problem by safely degrading PFAS chemicals by taking advantage of defluorinating enzymes and a robust beta-oxidation pathway in order to break down PFAS in a way similar to fatty acid molecules which share a very similar molecular structure to PFAS.  

Outside of the lab our human practices team is working to create a real-world picture of the PFAS in our community water systems affecting the Central Arizona population. We will be sampling local water systems and along with available data, creating a heatmap of the levels of PFAS molecules. The EPA has set limits for two of the harshest PFAS—PFOS and PFOA—at 0.02 parts per trillion (ppt) and 0.004 ppt, respectively ( The Environmental Working Group has measurements from 2014-2019 of several water systems throughout the Phoenix valley with levels ranging from 2,750 times to 12,500 times the EPA limit ( While these levels are startling, efforts have been made by water treatment companies to reduce levels, but even with various filtration systems, the PFAS chemicals are still present in the filters and need to be incinerated for disposal, an energy costly process. 


While we are well on our way to project completion, we struggle to get the financial capability to send student representatives to the Grand Jamboree held in Paris, France where we will present our project to a panel of judges and synthetic biology experts. The Grand Jamboree is an integral part of the iGEM experience, and is the culmination of the seven-month project cycle where researchers, industry representatives, founders, investors, and other experts meet to review and discuss projects.
We humbly ask for your donation to help give our team the absolutely invaluable opportunity to receive feedback, network with industry professionals, learn about other teams’ contributions, and attend expert led panels. Even the smallest donation helps!


Thank you so much for taking the time to learn about our project and our team and we hope you see the importance of the issue at hand and the passion of our team for developing innovative solutions.

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Materials Master

This donation will help cover our lab materials and supplies.


Equipment Expert

This donation will help relieve costs in using equipment like LC/MS/MS.


Chemicals Crusader

This donation will help cover the costs of the chemicals that are needed in lab.


Fee Fighter

This donation will help pay for the team's fee to register in the Jamboree


Registration Rallier

This donation will cover the cost of a team member's registration for the Jamboree.


Destination Dreamer

This donation will help cover the cost of one member's housing during our time at the Jamboree in Paris.


Flight Fanatic

This donation will cover the cost of a member's flight ticket to the conference held in Paris.

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