Ray Cats Proposal

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One day in a nuclear age
They may understand our rage
They build machines that they can't control
And bury the waste in a great big hole
Power was to become cheap and clean
Grimy faces were never seen
But deadly for twelve thousand years is carbon fourteen
We work the black seam together
We work the black seam together

So, what sort of notice do we need to put on a nuclear waste dump to warn future generations for twelve thousand years? According to [Wikipedia: Human Interference Task Force ] part of the answer may be "Ray Cats". (see also Ray Cats article)

The "Ray Cats" idea was originally written in german [Lebende Detektoren und komplementäre Zeichen: Katzen, Augen und Sirenen], but sadly I don't speak german and I haven't yet found a copy of the paper.

So, "Ray Cats" should glow in response to radiation, becoming biological radiation sensors.

Clearly, this is a job for synthetic biology and an obvious iGem project candidate.

Previously, we discussed the possibility of creating a radiation sensor, but discarded it on the basis that this would be difficult with powerful ionizing radiation, but perhaps we should re-examine thsi assumption now that we have a powerful motive.

Our novel additions to this line of thought follow:

(1) Toxoplasma could be used as a vector to infect the world cat population with our modification as part of a plan to ensure that it is widely spread and not lost due to evolution.

(2) Since Toxplasma is likely to require a lab above BSL1 we should look at doing initial work in an alternative host, such as an E.coli K-12 strain.

(3) So as a starting point we could put a radiation detecting molecule into K-12 with some output signal, such as a split-gfp reporter.

(4) As a first step, we could put the split-gfp alone into a plasmid and transform that into our K-12 as a negative control (as we do not expect it to glow). Such a plasmid could be a useful general first step for other work, and may represent an improvement on previous work. It may also be covered under self-cloning exceptions.