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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L026511/1
Title: Sponsorship Award. Cell-by-Cell: On Demand Assembly & Control of Microbial Communities for the Water Industry.
Principal Investigator: Pinto, Dr A
Other Investigators:
Windmill, Professor JFC Lee, Dr Y
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: School of Engineering
Organisation: University of Glasgow
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 May 2014 Ends: 31 August 2015 Value (£): 20,162
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Water Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology Water
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Feb 2014 Engineering Sponsorship Awards Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The water industry has relied on consortia of diverse microorganisms to perform some of its most vital functions (e.g. wastewater treatment, biological drinking water treatment, renewable energy production). These microbial assemblages have provided us with technologies that have not only significantly improved our quality of life, but also reversed the rapid degradation of our environment. The assembly of these complex microbial communities has thus far been guided either by happenstance environmental conditions or through trial-and-error based engineering approaches that are largely top-down in nature. In keeping with this top-down assembly, the function of these communities is also controlled in bulk, such that large-scale environmental effects are engineered to stimulate or inhibit functions of entire groups of microorganisms (e.g. controlling the availability of electron acceptors such as oxygen). We are proposing the development of a new approach that does not rely on happenstance environmental condition or bulk control, but rather engineers the assembly and control of microbial communities from the bottom-up, i.e. on a cell-by-cell basis. Our confidence in this approach is inspired not only by the recent technological breakthroughs in 'omics technologies, synthetic biology and 3D printing; but also a deep respect for the evolutionary processes that have generated the microbial vastness and its metabolic potential around us. Through the EPSRC Sponsorship Award, we propose to catalyze research momentum within our home universities and the UK to start exploring how synthetic microbial community assembly may accomplish, how it may improve existing technologies, and deliver radical technological breakthroughs for the water industry. To do this, we have proposed a series of strategically timed activities (e.g. research visits, workshops, retreats) that will engage the core investigator team in this adventurous research theme by gaining new research expertise and connecting with a broad network of academic and industrial partners from the UK, Europe, and USA.
Key Findings
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.gla.ac.uk