Congratulations, Bug Busters! You didn't just get a gold star, you got a gold award!
Though I was not involved, many of my friends were part of the Newcastle University iGEM 2008 team, either as supervisors or students. You can read more on the Newcastle University iGEM entry wiki page. Of the 84
teams competing, only 16 won gold medals, including, from the UK, Edinburgh,
Imperial and Newcastle.
From the overview of the team's wiki page:
"We aimed to develop a diagnostic biosensor for detecting pathogens.
We wanted this to be cheaply and readily available for deployment in
areas where access to medical resources, such as refrigeration and
sophisticated laboratories, is limited or absent. We chose to use Bacillus subtilis
as a method of delivery due to its ability to sporulate. The sensor
bacteria could then be dried down as spores, which are very stable and
extremely resilient to hostile environmental conditions, and rehydrated
when required. The ambient temperature of much of the developing world
is ideal for the growth of Bacillus spp. without the use of incubation equipment.
Gram-positive bacteria communicate using quorum communication
peptides. Research has shown that these peptides are extremely
strain-specific. We chose to engineer B. subtilis 168 to detect
four Gram-positive pathogens by their quorum communication peptides.
The different combinations of quorum communication peptides would be
sensed by the engineered bacterium, and this signal converted into a
visual output as fluorescent proteins such as mCherry, GFP, CFP and
YFP." Read more.
P.S. Looks like kudos to my old alma mater, Rice University, too! Congrats!