Mireia – Pharmaceutical Research, MSc

I’m Mireia, a second year student of MSc Pharmaceutical Research, Development and Safety at the University of Helsinki💊🌍. I am passionate about science and sustainability, and I am just about to start a HiLIFE four-month funded project that allows me to combine both topics👩🏽‍🔬🌱. The aim of the research is to use transgenic earthworms as a microplastics degradation strategy to fight microplastics pollution. How cool is that?🐛🤙🏼

Microplastics are one of the biggest issues that we are facing nowadays. They are found in the land, seas and oceans, and even in our blood. How could we prevent them from ending up in the environment?🏔️ How to avoid them from entering the food chain?🥦

Earthworms are one of the few animals capable of degrading organic material (e.g., leaves) into inorganic material (e.g., water)🍃🫧. This is possible due to the gizzard, a grinding structure in their digestive system. Because of their ability, earthworms play a crucial role in keeping soils healthy🌸

In my project I aim to take advantage of earthworm’s digestive system to make microplastics degradation possible in soil. To achieve that, I will edit the earthworms’ DNA to enhance the expression of enzymes that effectively degrade microplastics. But, how?

1. I will use cloning to tailor DNA with genes of interest (e.g., coding for enzymes)🧬🔬
2. I will pack this DNA into a baculovirus🦠
3. I will use that baculovirus to transfer the DNA into the earthworm’s genome. Transgenic earthworms will have an enhanced capability of degrading microplastics⚡️

With this research, transgenic earthworms could be the ultimate strategy to overcome microplastics pollution. I am excited for what is to come and sharing my experience with you in the HiLIFE Trainee blog, Instagram and Twitter. Stay tuned! 🔜


You can also view this introduction in Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/C0bMX2tiy75/?img_index=1 (posted December 4, 2023).