Synthetic biology enables infinite possibilities in biotechnology via employing genetic modules. However, not many researches have explored the potentials of synthetic biology in environmental bioprocesses. In this study, we introduced a genetic module harboring the codon-optimized tetracycline degrading gene, tetX.co, into the model host, Escherichia coli, and generated a prototypal whole-cell biodevice for the degradation of a target antibiotic. Our results suggested that E. coli with the tetX.co-module driven by either the PJ23119 or PBAD promoters conferred resistance up to 50 μg/mL of tetracycline and degrades over 95% of tetracycline within 24 h. The detoxification ability of tetX was further verified in conditioned media by typical E. coli K-12 and B strains as well as Shewanella oneidensis. Our strategy demonstrated the feasibility of introducing genetic modules into model hosts to enable environmental functions, and this work will inspire more environmental innovations through synthetic biological devices.
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