Renne Lab student assistant Merin Thomas and her team from UF participated in the 2018 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition in Boston this past weekend. iGEM Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to education and competition, the advancement of synthetic biology, and the development of an open community and collaboration. Merin and her team engineered a bacterium they called "The Ferminator", which they hope to "train" to produce large amounts of butyrate, a fatty acid critical to maintain proper gastrointestinal function and immune responses. Butyrate works to reduce inflammation and strengthen the integrity of the gut barrier. To optimize butyrate production, they inserted the correct pathway into E. coli Nissle and used gene deletions to get rid of offshoot pathways that direct carbon flow away from the endpoint. Their project was a silver medal winner! For more about team UFlorida's project, visit their team page.