New York University Shanghai
We participated the iGEMer meetup of East Chinese region held by New York University Shanghai on 13, April. As the first meetup held in China during 2019 season, it attracted about 200 iGEMers from 20 different teams and thus provided us a great chance to better understand the essence and philosophy of iGEM competition. During the meeting, we got some pieces of valuable advice and inspirations for human practices from Dorothy Zhang—the regional ambassador of Asia. Besides, the meeting also changed our views on how many fields synthetic biology ideas can spread to and make a difference, which was particularly important to the formation of our own project. By communicating with other teams, we learned many useful experience on hardware and modeling. At the end of the meeting, we established a firm friendship with the iGEM team of Jiangnan University and many other.
Figure 1. The Meetup in New York University on13，April
Conference of China iGEM Community
From August 20th to August 23th, we actively engaged in the Conference of China iGEM Community (CCiC), held by Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology，Chinese Academy of Sciences. Several leading figures in the field of synthetic biology were invited during the Conference, including the CEO of bluepha and other guests.
Figure 2. We are engaging in CCiC
During the meetup, our team members shared our project—paper transformer, and introduced our team to other invited participants. The well-experienced graduates, Jiang Shan and Zhang Nan, suggested that we should further the investigation of our project background to highlight the advantages of our engineered organism, such as through a field visit to paper mills. During the event, we were also involved in an experience-sharing conversation about modeling organized by Peking University, and learned how to use many useful tools to support our modeling work.
In September, we met iGEMers from Fudan-TSI of Fudan University in Shanghai, and talked about how far our human practices could reach. One of our team members, Liu Xv, advised that they could try to give voluntary teaching in rural areas or just middle school nearby.
In return, they kindly shared us with a protocol of quantifying relative fluorescence intensity, which facilitated the characterization of our inverter system.
Shanghai Foreign Language School
During this summer, ECUST has communicated with two high school teams and gave some suggestions on how to develop an interesting and feasible project. We advised the SFLS team to focus on the daily production, in order to better publicize their idea to more non-professional people. As a result, they chose to increase the production of methanol by engineering yeast (Pichia.pastoris). By chance, the laboratory we worked was experienced on engineering yeast and fermentation, so we also provided them with experimental equipments and sites.
On May 29th, we were invited to Jiangnan University in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, to present our project and exchange ideas. Three teams from Jiangnan University and we all did presentations and had a heated discussion afterwards. In the conference, Professor. Li from Beijing Institute of Technology was invited to give us four teams many suggestions, which has profoundly polished our design. Professor. Li pointed out a big vulnerability of our former design — using glucose as the accumulated intermediate to fuel bacterial cellulose production, which is proved to be impossible as glucose is one of the most readily available energy sources. Thus, we devised our new parts — cellobiose promoter and correlating activator gene. Apart from design, Professor. Li has also shared a lot of experience on human practices and team management, which really helped freshly-involved schools like us ECUST.
Figure 3. ECUST iGEMers taking pictures with JNU iGEMers and instructors together
Hubei University team has been working on establishing biological parts in Zymomonas mobilis, aiming to convert waste cartons into biofuels (e.g. ethanol, isobutanol) and Poly-β-hydroxybutyrate(PHB). Zymomonas mobilis exists as a non-model Gram-negative ethanologenic bacterium with many desirable industrial characteristics. The ingenuity of their project design shows in not only creating basic and composite parts for non-model organism, but also reaping renewable biofuels and bioplastics precursor meanwhile protecting campus environment.
We left a contact to HUBU iGEMers during the CCiC meetup, since we were both dedicated to achieve cellulose hydrolysis by equipping our chasis with cellulase genes. Afterwards, HUBU iGEMer sought for our help with secretion efficiency test, but since we were using different chasis(E.coli for us, Z.mobilis for them), we agreed to try to express their cellulase genes in our E.coli T1. As a result, we successfully proved the feasibility of their secretion systems by western blot analysis. By comparing the secretion efficiency between two chassis organisms, we helped HUBU to characterize several parts. In return, HUBU team also shared some useful protocols of identifying secretive proteins, which were pivotal to our α-hemolysin secretion system.
This year, SZU iGEM team has focused on ecological environment protection. They engineered a E.coli to stem Mikania micrantha Kunth growth and propagation. Mikania micrantha Kunth is one of the most harmful invasive species in the world and has caused great damage to some regions like Shenzhen and Hong Kong in China since it was introduced in the early 20th century. In detail, SZU iGEMer planed to impart chasis with RNAi ability to silence specific genes of Mikania micrantha Kunth, thus blocking their normal metabolism leading to the specific elimination of this very weed.
SZU team posted collaboration request of taking pictures of Mikania micrantha Kunt on iGEM website, and we accidentally found it familiar when seeing the picture of the Mikania micrantha Kunth they posted. During October, SZU and ECUST iGEMers organized the “Photography Competition of Mikania micrantha” to identify Mikania micrantha Kunt with the help of an applet called 'GREEN Hunter' SZU iGEMers devised, attempting to attract more people to help us complete the distribution map of this alien weed. At last, we received many useful pictures and analyzed the data. It turned out that this weed spices had already spread into the Shanghai and even into deep mainland like Sichuan. By collecting the distribution data of the Mikania micrantha Kunth, we provided SZU team with more accurate and credible background information, and to some extent, proved the necessity of this weed-sweeping campaign.
Figure 4. Photography Competition of Mikania Micrantha Kunth we held