Authors: Océane Schaub, Anne-Pia Marty, Loukas Garanis, Marcelo Veloso

This blogpost is about the future perspectives of the application and in particular, one of the tests we are thinking of implementing into the structure of the application.

This test comes from one of the most common concern we encounter about the state of the soils: the presence of heavy metals in the soils.

Many tests for heavy metals require expensive and complicated lab equipments, and most often cost a lot of money.

This blogpost explains how we intend to reduce the cost of those tests to almost nothing and make the testing for heavy metals into a protocol that anyone could do at home with a little practice.

The main idea is to use genetically modified bacteria.

Indeed, what we need to use is an protein that turns into and obvious color (like red or blue) if a heavy metal is present. We will then insert the gene coding for this protein into bacteria following the same method as shown into this diagram.

Through this process, we will be able to create a strain of bacteria that can change color if aheavy metal is present.

The next steps are very easy: the bacteria will be shipped to the users who ask for it for some specific test. They will just have to create a gel (from water that has been infused in the soil, sugar and pork gelatine) and place the bacteria on it.

If after a few days, the bacteria have formed colored spots, then the soil contains the targeted heavy metal. If not, then tha soil is clean from a significant amount of heavy metals.

This of course sounds good on paper, but we first need to create this strain.

The good news is that the genetic manipulation to create the cell from the plasmid is extremely basic and is something done every day in every biology lab in the world. What we need is the plasmid itself (ie the gene sequence for the protein). Fortunately, there is a huge community of biohacker (ie crazy scientists playing around with bacteria) around the world, and a lot of them are precisely working on this topic.

The next steps will then be to get in touch with them and ask them to give them some of their own strains.

So stay tuned to see if we will be able to implement this test. And in the meantime, have a good Christmass!