‘To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life.’
This is Wageningen University & Research's mission. We are a research institution that focuses on the domain ‘healthy food and living conditions’. We do not just develop top-quality expertise; we also help translate our knowledge into practice worldwide. Support our projects and contribute to the quality of life.
The continuous release of ammonia and nitrogen oxides by industry, traffic and livestock sectors have led to the problem we are facing today: the nitrogen crisis. There is a major excess of nitrogen in the Netherlands, which has disastrous consequences for nature and human health. The beautiful heather fields are disappearing as the soil becomes too rich with nutrients. Already 118 out of 162 Dutch protected nature areas suffer from critically high nitrogen levels. The soil is acidifying, which is not only detrimental for plants but also for animals. Due to demineralization of the soil caused by the acidification, there is a lack of essential micronutrients, such as calcium, in the food chain. This has even led to birds being born with broken legs. As a result of the nitrogen excess, the biodiversity and natural capital of the Netherlands is severely decreasing.
In an attempt to freeze the emissions of nitrogen, permits for construction projects have been suspended, the highway speed limit was reduced from 130 km/h to 100 km/h and there are calls to reduce the amount of livestock by 50%. A vast segment of ammonia emissions can be attributed to livestock, with cattle being the largest producer. Besides ammonia, cattle are a source of methane. Methane can absorb the sun’s heat, warming the atmosphere, and is therefore considered a potent greenhouse gas. Methane and ammonia gasses are released by cattle through rumination and their manure. Our project, Cattlelyst, in collaboration with Wageningen University, aims to reduce the ecological footprint of the cattle industry with a new approach.
Cattlelyst is an innovative bio-filtration system that removes both ammonia and methane from the air in cattle stalls. It relies on synthetically optimized bacteria, engineered to live off the released ammonia and methane and convert the gases into harmless forms. By engineering the bacteria, we want to increase the efficiency of the gas conversions, thereby increasing the applicability of the system. Additionally, we designed a multi-layered safety system, which will prevent survival of the bacteria if they escape the biofilter. Thanks to these features, we aim to provide a biological, animal friendly and biosecure solution to the negative impact the livestock has on our ecosystem.
Behind Cattlelyst, there is a team of 10 motivated Dutch and international students from Wageningen University & Research (WUR), who are ambitious to help solve current problems by applying synthetic biology. With our project we are participating in the yearly International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, a world-wide synthetic biology competition in which over 350 student teams compete and collaborate to tackle real-world problems by designing, building and testing their own research projects. The competition builds up to the ‘Giant Jamboree’ due to be held in Paris in the fall, where all the iGEM teams will come together, present their projects and celebrate their achievements.
The coming months we will be carrying out our research in the laboratories provided by the chair groups Microbiology and Systems & Synthetic Biology at WUR. However, we need financial support to buy the required materials for our experiments and to pay the fees for participating in this competition. By contributing to our project, you can help us alleviating the impact that the cattle industry has on the local and global environment!
*You will receive rewards from the level to which your donation belongs, as well as the rewards from the levels below.
**Rewards will be shipped to contributors in the Netherlands, we will contact foreign contributors about shipping costs.
***Rewards will be shipped after the end of the projects, so do not worry if your rewards take a long time to arrive!
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