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BTEXterminator: GMO for Bioremediation of Produced Water

Munoz, Christine M.
Sackett, Cody L.
Kiyai-Bartlett, Juliet C.
During oil and gas operations, millions of barrels of water are forced to the surface; this water is called produced water. Produced water contains many compounds, namely BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene). BTEXterminator is a co-culture of two Pseudomonas putida strains that have been genetically modified to degrade BTEX, as well as their respective isomers. This bioremediation product is unique in its ability to perform in unaltered produced water, which is incredibly challenging for a majority of organisms due to the harsh conditions. A simple preliminary genetic modification step is done to both pure P. putida strains before introducing them to each other in a co-culture to increase efficiency of BTEX degradation. The metabolic pathways responsible for breaking down the organic carbon compounds in BTEX are known as the TOL and TOD pathways. Individually, neither of the pathways can degrade all of the components BTEX, but together, they are complementary in degrading all components of BTEX. Each individual strain naturally contains one of the pathways. A plasmid is inserted into each strain in order to force both organisms to actively express both pathways. After successful modification is achieved, the co-culture will be established and cultivated up to scale via free cellular suspension. The product may then be transplanted into a reactor where it will be ready to treat produced water.
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