FearOmone: A cat pheromone based Bio-synthetic deterrent to minimize post-harvest losses caused by rat manifestation.
In India, post-harvest losses amount to 16 million metric tons of food grains each year (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5296677/). Improper storage and transport is the main problem to be addressed since it contributes to more than 30% of the total post-harvest losses. Traditional storage modes are vulnerable to a range of rodent attacks, especially those of mice and rats. Conventional solutions including rodenticides have adverse effects on the environment and other harmless animals. There also exists ethical issues with killing animals.
We aim to address this issue by creating genetically engineered yeast producing cat pheromone-based biosynthetic deterrent to minimize post-harvest losses. Research has shown that cat urine contains pheromone precursors and major urinary proteins which mice brains are biologically programmed to perceive as a threat (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17052611). Emulating the cat pheromone pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a three-step process requiring three enzymes to mediate each transition in its cytosol. The initial step involves the production of 3-Methylbutanol-glutathione from glutathione and isopentenyl pyrophosphate. As Saccharomyces cerevisiae lacks the necessary enzymes, we will be transforming it with plasmids containing synthetic gene circuits.
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