Progress Indicator Animation
This year, we created our own mini inter-lab study titled “Texas Red as a standard for measuring mCherry” as an effort to standardize Texas Red for fluorescence protein measurements, so red fluorescent proteins' fluorescence can be measured using Relative Fluorescence Units (RFU)

Additionally, we mentored the iGEM team of Humboldt University of Berlin to support them during their first participation in the iGEM competition and maintained good contact with this team throughout the year.

An important collaboration with the iGEM team of Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf includes the organization of an exhibition about synthetic biology at the Goethe Museum in Düsseldorf as a crucial part of our Education and Public Engagement.

Furthermore, we collaborated with the iGEM team of UFRGS Brazil regarding our mutual concerns about global differences in GMO-related regulations where our teams worked together to summarize the situation in 10 countries across the continents and openly exchanged our opinions and thoughts about the issue.

Besides collaborations, we were also active in building networks with other teams worldwide through discussions, skype conversations, and attendances in various regional and international meet-ups.


Texas Red as Measuring Standard of mCherry

Collaboration button for the Texas Red mCherry mini inter-lab study with the aim of standardizing Texas Red for fluorescent protein measurement, particularly for mCherry.
Scientists, especially within the iGEM-community, commonly use fluorescent proteins as reporters. However, there are hardly any standardized methods for the measurement of the fluorescent proteins, making it almost impossible to compare the achieved results. During the past iGEM seasons, the measurement committee introduced the inter-lab study to the competition to establish some standardization to the means of fluorescent proteins measurement. As a result, a standardized protocol and Fluorescin as a standard reference for the measurement of GFP were established.

We believe that the standardized measurement of fluorescent proteins should not be limited to GFP. Therefore, we invented our own small inter-lab study to establish a new standard reference for the measurement of mCherry, which will be beneficial for the iGEM community, since it would add varieties to this method. After some research and consulting with the measurement committee, we decided to use TexasRed as a reference for mCherry, since we believe that Texas Red is a good candidate for this study according to some research that we did. This collaboration was aimed at iGEM teams worldwide who work with mCherry and are keen to improve their measurement method. In this course of collaboration, we hoped to collect enough data from participating teams to obtain sufficient information for our analysis. Another motivation for this collaboration is to give the possibility to other teams to use Texas Red to generate an easily comparable standardized data.

To spread the news about this inter-lab study, we posted on Twitter and the collaboration page of the iGEM HQ.

Shortly after, we started receiving inquiries from other teams who also wanted to discuss the possibilities of utilizing Texas Red in their experiments. The teams of iGEM Darmstadt and iGEM Duesseldorf even sent us the inquiry regarding their interest to conduct the measurement. We provided both teams with three plasmids carrying three different promoters along with mCherry. Together, we measured the fluorescence against Texas Red and collected the data.
Recorded Texas Red standard in form of scatter chart generated by our team, the Duesseldorf team, and the Darmstadt team. All measurements were carried out in triplicates using different plate readers.
After aggregating all results, we identified directly inconsistencies between the teams' results, which supported our point about the urgent necessity of measurement standardization for this method.

The complete progress of the collaboration can be found here.

The protocol can be found here.

Special thanks to participating teams for joining this collaboration. It was such a pleasure to work together with you!

Mentoring and Further Connections to the iGEM Team 2019 of Humboldt University of Berlin

Our team with Darius, the representative of the iGEM team of Humboldt University of Berlin, in our laboratory at the CeBiTec.
The 2019 iGEM team of Humboldt University of Berlin is the first team from their university to ever participate in the iGEM competition. Since our team is already established in the competition for 10 consecutive years they reached out to us for some general guidance and especially advice concerning sponsoring and their wiki.

In the very beginning of the iGEM season we had a skype conference to get to know each other and to discuss the best way to approach possible sponsors.

Next, Darius visited us in Bielefeld on the 15th of March. We discussed our project ideas and explained some general features of the iGEM competition. Moreover, our experienced supervisors gave some advice and recommendations on various topics related to iGEM. Later we showed Darius around in the CeBiTec laboratory building.
Our team member Alexander Schulze in the laboratory of Humboldt University Berlin.
Later in April, one of our team members Alexander Schulze attended a workshop to prepare for his final performance on FameLab. During his stay in Berlin, he paid back the visit to the iGEM team Berlin and had a great time exploring their laboratory and exchanging recent advances on each other’s projects.

Only one month later our team members Ina Schmitt and Katharina Wolff, who are responsible for the wiki design and contents traveled to Berlin for three days to conduct a wiki workshop for the members of the iGEM Team of Humboldt Berlin. During the crash course, we talked about the basics of HTML and CSS, as well as the specifications of the iGEM wiki like the evaluated pages and the upload portal.
Wiki workshop in the laboratory of Humboldt University Berlin.
Additionally, we discussed some ways to organize and design wiki contents. Both teams also enjoyed some quality time together on the beautiful campus of the Humboldt University and in the surrounding Berlin city center

In early August Adila from our team visited the Berlin team one last time and was given a tour through the laboratories of the Humboldt University of Berlin. On this occasion, insights on each team’s progress in the lab work were exchanged.
Adila's visit in Berlin and our designed postcard.

Throughout the iGEM season, we had continuous contact to the Humboldt University of Berlin team. We have not only shared our experiences through mentoring, but also learned a lot ourselves while discussing our ideas with the Berlin team. We truly enjoyed getting to know them and formed a connection that will continue long after the iGEM competition.

It was a great experience for us to mentor you guys! We enjoyed our time together a lot and wish you the best of luck for the Giant Jamboree.

Museum Collaboration and Further Connections to the iGEM Team of Heinrich-Heine-University of Duesseldorf

As a fellow iGEM team in the area of North Rhine-Westphalia, we had a lot of contact with the iGEM team of the Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf. This friendship between teams goes back to 2016 when the first team of the Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf was mentored by Bielefeld-CeBiTec. We worked together to organize an exhibition about synthetic biology in the Goethe Museum in Düsseldorf as a part of our outreach program. We aimed to open exhibitions that would be appealing to a specific group of people which commonly exhibits little to no interest in synthetic biology. In this case, we targeted a group of literature-enthusiasts.

Team members of iGEM Bielefeld-CeBiTec and iGEM Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf in front of the Goethe Museum.
On May 16th, some of our team members travelled to Düsseldorf and met up with the representatives of the Düsseldorf team for an initial discussion of plans. Subsequently, we visited the Goethe Museum together and met with Damian Mallepree who is part of the management team of the Goethe Museum. Together with this local expert, we developed an exhibition concept that would be appealing to an average visitor in the Goethe Museum, while also illustrating a lot of scientific facts. Afterward, both teams enjoyed a pleasant day in beautiful spring weather, while discussing their project ideas in more detail.

Starting from this day until the official opening of the exhibition on July 19th, our teams worked closely together to create a cohesive and appealing exhibition. Our team prepared posters for the exhibition, containing information about synthetic biology from DNA, minimal organisms, to genetic engineering, while the Düsseldorf team contributed experiments for the opening celebration.
Posters and the area for the synthetic biology exhibition.
The opening celebration started with a talk by Prof. Dr. Jörn Kalinowski (CeBiTec, Bielefeld University), giving an introduction into synthetic biology and revealing some interesting connections to Goethe's Faust. Afterward both iGEM teams presented their projects to the audience. Next, open-minded discussions about the possibilities, risks, and ethics of genetic engineering, as well as biosafety enabled the audience to share their concerns and to ask questions. After this welcoming session, we enjoyed a get-together in the exhibition room where the posters and laboratory equipment were displayed. Here the representatives of the iGEM team Düsseldorf demonstrated a simple way to isolate DNA from tomatoes and bananas. It was an intriguing experience to engage with the audience and get to know their view on synthetic biology.

Cas13a-plasmids from iGEM Team of Munich (Ludwig Maximilian University and Technical University of Munich)

Post envelope sent by iGEM Munich containing the awaited Cas13a-plasmid.
The 2017 iGEM team Munich established the detection unit “CascAID”, a GMO-free diagnostic platform based on CRISPR-Cas13a. As we decided to work with Cas13a for our cell death induced system (CeDIS), we got into contact with this year’s iGEM team of Munich and asked them if they would kindly send us the Cas13a plasmid from their predecessors in order for us to work on our CeDIS. We are very grateful for their quick positive response and shipment of the plasmids.

iGEM Team UFRGS Brazil 2019: Recapitulation of GMO legislations across Countries and Continents.

Skype conversation between our team and the UFRGS Brazil team.
The real-life application of our Troygenics system possess an application of genetically modified organisms to the environment. Different regulations apply to the release of GMOs in different countries.

In early September, our team got in contact with the iGEM team of UFRGS Brazil, who was working to establish GlyFloat as a filter based on genetically engineered bacteria to degrade agricultural glyphosate waste in water. Since the real-life application of both our project ideas would involve the release of GMOs into the environment we asked ourselves to what extent that would that be feasible. While chatting we realized that we had different first thoughts on certain topics regarding the release of GMOs. We started to wonder where these different perspectives came from and whether our different cultural backgrounds might play a role in this. Following this chain of thought, we questioned what regulations concerning the release of GMOs exist in different countries and why they were enacted.

To discuss this topic further, we had weekly Skype meetings in which we exchanged our ideas and perception on the regulations in place. We agreed to collect, compare and discuss data on the various GMO-regulations from 10 countries across the continents including China, India, Egypt, Sweden, Australia, USA, Germany, Brazil, United Kingdom, and Canada. We put together a spreadsheet illustrating the current legal situations in the 10 listed countries.
Our tabular comparation of GMO legalizations in 10 countries worldwide.
Each team also intended to write three paragraphs to express their opinions about the information that they collected. During the discussions, it was interesting to find dissimilarities on the perspectives and opinion of both teams, which we assumed to be based on different cultural backgrounds. Nevertheless, it was a perspective-opening experience to carry out this collaboration with the iGEM team of URFGS Brazil since it has supported us in such a helpful way to understand the legal consequences regarding the GMO policies of our system better.

It was a mind-opening experience to collaborate with the iGEM team of URFGS Brazil, we helped each other to better understand the legal situation concerning GMO releases all over the world. We had a great time with you, far apart but still closely connected.


iGEM European Meet-Up in The Hague, Netherlands

Collection of photos during the meet-up in The Hague.
In June, seven of our team members travelled to The Hague to attend an iGEM Meet Up. We met 15 teams from the neighboring European countries. This was the first occasion for us to present our project and the first version of our poster to a subset ofthe iGEM community. It was very nice to get to know the other iGEMers and their projects. Additionally, it was very interesting to hear their opinion and ideas regarding our project. During these days, participating teams could engage in interesting and inspiring talks and workshops. Moreover, the beautiful city of The Hague offered a wide range of opportunities to enjoy and spend some relaxing time with the other iGEM teams.

The German iGEM Meet-Up in Düsseldorf #iGEMDASMeetup

Our team photo and a photo with other participating German iGEM teams during the meet-up.
All members of our team traveled to Düsseldorf. Between July 5th and 7th all German iGEM teams attended the German Meet-Up, organized by the 2019 iGEM team of Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf. After the welcoming session, we got to attend an interesting podium discussion about the ethics, risks, and safety of synthetic biology. On the following days, there were also interesting talks and presentations to attend. Besides that, the meetup was focused on the poster sessions, where we got to know the interesting and inspiring projects of the other teams. We exchanged thoughts and ideas about various projects and the competition in general. This gave us an opportunity to reflect on our own project and think about the parts that required further improvement.

For the get-together part of the meet-up there were meals, games, and a guided tour around the beautiful old town of Düsseldorf. Special thanks to the iGEM Team of Düsseldorf for organizing this amazing meet-up!


Received postcards from other iGEM teams.
As an annual tradition, the iGEM Team of Düsseldorf also organized a postcard collaboration this year. Following the rules, we designed a postcard with the theme of our project and the description on the backside. We finished the design around the end of July and were able to send our printed postcards to other participating teams.

Around the last week of September, we finally received collected postcards that are sent to us from many neighboring countries and countries across the continents. This collaboration has been such a fun occasion for us, and we hope that the Düsseldorf team continues this tradition in the next years.

"March for Science" in Cologne

Our team members with one team member of iGEM Düsseldorf during March for Science.
“March for Science” is a worldwide event where hundreds of thousands of people go to the streets to raise awareness about the advances of science in the society and the danger of ignoring scientific facts. In Germany, March of Science is coordinated in 22 different places, including in the city of Cologne on May 4th. For the March of Science this year, we met up with the iGEM Team of Düsseldorf and marched together for the importance of science!

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