Team:Austin UTexas/Collaborations


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July 2019 Meetup with Rice and Texas Tech University
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July 2019 Meetup with Rice and Texas Tech University
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Rice University explaining the design of their RNA thermometer
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July 2019 Meetup with Rice and Texas Tech University
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Texas Tech University explaining microbial Tropinone pathway

Collaborations Achievements

Our collaborations this year helped our team in many ways. By fulfilling this medal requirement, we were able to build relationships with other iGEM teams as well as test the reproducibility of our protocols with these teams. We collaborated with the UT Arlington, Texas Tech, Rice, and Michigan State teams. Collaboration is crucial to our project in order to allow our protocol and results to be replicable and understood by other iGEM teams. In the early stages of our project we were able to video chat with Michigan State and the other Texas iGEM teams to learn about their projects and find possible ways for us to collaborate. By getting an early start to collaboration, this allowed our team to host a meet up with and mentor UT Arlington. We were also able to host a Texas meet up with Rice and Texas Tech.

Our collaboration goals were to serve other teams by using our burden monitor to measure the burden of the genetic constructs they were using from the iGEM kit. In doing so, we were able to characterize the parts they used from the iGEM kit as burdensome or not. Furthermore, the other teams helped us by troubleshooting our burden monitor protocol. This included making their own custom burden monitor strain with our assistance and guidance, and/or running the burden assay on a series of parts to determine if the measurements are reproducible across other labs. The work done by our team's collaborators has helped us understand how to improve the directions for our protocol so that they are clearer and easier to follow. This progress will help future iGEM teams know how to measure the burden of the genetic constructs that they use and to compare which parts are more burdensome than others.

Meet up and Mentoring UT Arlington

Arlington iGEM

Noor and Jordan with Morgan from UT Arlington

Early in the summer we were able to host a small meet up with UT Arlington to talk about each team’s project. This helped us find unique ways to collaborate with them. It is UT Arlington’s first year competing in iGEM. As an older iGEM team we were able to mentor them and give them tips about how to be successful in iGEM. We mentored UT Arlington by giving them suggestions about how to fulfill medal requirements and have an effective iGEM project.

Our campus hosts a Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium (FURS). Representatives of our team and UT Arlington gave a presentation to this audience about each respective team's iGEM project. This allowed each team to gain practice presenting their iGEM project. We were also able to connect with UT Arlington again to talk more about our projects. Being able to have these meet ups with UT Arlington was a great opportunity to learn about how a new team is set up and to develop a relationship for collaborations in the future.

TX iGEM Meet up with Rice and Texas Tech

We were able to contact the Rice and Texas Tech teams early in the summer because we have collaborated with them in the past. It was very helpful to have ongoing relationships with these teams and build on our collaboration interests. Because of this early contact we were able to host a Texas iGEM meet up. At our meet up we were able to learn about each teams projects and give rough presentations to one another. Each team also received feedback, and we were able ask questions about one another's projects. This more casual setting helped our teams prepare for the presentations we will give at the Jamboree. It has been exciting to see the progress other teams have made since the meet up. This meet up was also helpful for finding ways to collaborate with other teams.

Meet up with Rice and Texas Tech!

Working with Rice and Texas Tech we were able to serve them by running our burden assay on the parts that they used from the iGEM kit. Doing this benefited these teams by giving them data (as seen below) to help characterize their parts and how it effects the growth rate and evolutionary stability of the cell. The growth rate data of their parts allowed us to determine the burden value of each part to help these teams know how long their parts would remain stable in a host cell. The data collected is not only useful to our three teams but also for other iGEM teams who plan on using those parts in the future as we hope to inspire them to think more about evolutionary stability and cellular resources. Outside of us running our assay on these team's parts we were also fortunate to receive help from Texas Tech to determine whether or not our experiments are reproducible. Texas Tech was able to help us a lot by trouble shooting our protocol. This included following our protocols for creating a burden monitor strain as well as the calibration strains that we use. They then ran our burden assay on these strains. This helps us know whether or not our calibration strains and the line of regression is consistent across labs. Having four Texas teams helped our collaborative efforts greatly. Our collaborations were able to be carried out so smoothly because of our opportunity to host a meet up. Being able to spend a day with other teams helped us communicate ideas and learn from each other a lot better than was possible with a video call.

Rice Burden Values

Burden values of Rice's part plasmids

TTU Burden Values

Burden values of Texas Tech's part plasmids

Rice Burden Values

Growth rate charts of Rice and TTU parts from the iGEM registry

Reproducibility With Michigan State

Our team was able to receive joint funding with Michigan State University iGEM through the NSF Beacon Center.This enabled us to be in contact early and often through out the summer. Early collaborative ideas helped our project development in terms of reproducibility and being able to communicate with others the importance of our project. MSU helped us by troubleshooting our protocol by growing our burden monitor and calibration strains. Once this was successful we had enough data to determine a set of 24 parts we wanted to use to test reproducibility of the assay. These parts were selected because of their growth rates and GFP expression rates relative to our calibration strains displayed a wide variety of values. Some parts imposed no burden to the cell while others affected the cell via translational burden or other toxicity. This reproducible data set gave us more information and feedback on whether or not our burden monitor assay is reproducible by other labs and could possibly be standardized in the future. The troubleshooting Michigan State did is very beneficial for the future of our project and the possibility of it being standardized, and easily understood across iGEM and field of synthetic biology.