The Problem
Pyrethroids and Loss of biodiversity

Picture of PyRe 1 Strain

Pyrethroids are a class of pesticides which are highly toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates and bees. Since their introduction in the last 50 years, they have seen skyrocketing use following bans on other chemical treatments. Such widespread and excessive use has led to accumulations in surrounding soil and water sources, posing a severe threat to biodiversity and soil health. This is exacerbated by the lack of infield testing, resulting in slow responses to tackle toxic environments.

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Our Solution
Pyre - Pyrethroid Remediation

At Pyre we designed a novel integrated system to test and degrade build-up of λ-cyhalothrin in the environment. Our cell free testing system utilises aptamers for rapid visual screening in field, coupled with bioremediation through surface expression of  a carboxylesterase to breakdown pyrethroids in the environment.
Together this integrated approach provides a method to clean up toxic environments, taking the first steps to protect biodiversity across the world witht synthetic biology at its heart.

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Meet our Biosensor
Aptamer-based detection method

Our cell free testing system uses gold nanoparticles bound aptamers to provide rapid visual screening for  λ-cyhalothrin levels with no machines required. In presence of pyrethroids above the legal limit the solution changes colour from red to blue. This system is cheap, easy to use and accessible to everyone regardless of socio-economic factors. Rapid detection of toxic chemicals is vital to protecting biodiversity around the globe.

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Using and improving Pyre1

CarCB2 is a carboxylesterase which specialises in the degradation of λ-cyhalothrin. Cell-surface expression increases the catalytic cycles of the enzyme due to its stability. We designed, modelled and expressed multiple variations of the linker sequence between the IPN-N domain and CarCB2. Ultimately, we discovered that using a repeated sequence and a linker maximised the chance of successful membrane integration. This membrane bound protein forms the foundation of our degradation system.

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Explore our experiments

  • Explore our Protocols
  • Explore our Lab Book
  • Explore our Results
  • Modelling

    To explore growth-production trade-offs we developed an ordinary differential equation model of microbial gene expression and growth. Working under guidance from farmers and other stakeholders, we developed a spatial model to enable the optimisation of potential deployment strategies in the field.

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    Deploying Our Bacteria

    Integrated precision application system that optimizes bacteria deployment by mapping the concentrations of pyrethroids across the field using our sensing system. Minimum cost, maximum efficiency.

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    Human Practices

    Pyre’s relationship with its stakeholders is multilateral. It is a network of interrelated players in the economy that would either make or break Pyre. Farmers are not our clients! Find out here how we have identified a network of stakeholders who will be directly or indirectly affect Pyre, and vice versa.

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    Education and Communication

    Many modern problems stem from the lack of education, including the overuse of pesticides in farmlands. We aimed to produce educational content for willing learners across all audience groups. From lessons in the classroom to daily Youtube videos and our “Pyre Leaching” series, our holistic education plan ensures synthetic biology is accessbile to anyone in an interactive way.

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    References - Click below to open

    1. Max Roser and Pablo Rosado (2019) - "Pesticides".
      Published online at
      Retrieved from: '' [Online Resource]