Collaboration has always been an essential part of iGEM, and it is an incredible experience to work with fellow iGEM teams across the world. Through social media platforms, online and in-person meetings, we have connected with over a dozen of other iGEM teams and have managed to establish meaningful collaborations with most of them. Click to learn more about our collaborations from reviewing protocols and models, to co-creating educational videos!
Guelph - Wet Lab Troubleshooting
During our project Nicole LeBlanc from iGEM Guelph provided us with crucial insight on troubleshooting our protein expression. Recombinant antibody expression in E. coli is notoriously difficult and we were unable to express our Biobrick in BL21 cells over an extended period of time. Nicole made several suggestions to express our protein, including: changing buffer conditions, changing expression conditions, altering the purification system, and trying a different cell line. With her help, we decided that changing cell lines was our best option for getting our BioBrick expressed, since our protein was more likely to fold in a cell line that contains an oxidizing cytoplasmic environment.
Guelph - Wet Lab Bronze Medal Characterization
Additionally, iGEM Guelph helped us develop our bronze medal characterization experiments for parts BBa_K608010 and BBa_I746909. One of the suggestions for improving our protein yield was trying constitutive promoters, instead of the T7 promoter. It has been previously reported that constitutive expression can increase protein yield and improve folding (1). However, we first wanted to investigate the differences in protein production between T7 and constitutive promoters, using available Biobricks in the iGEM registry. Nicole, from iGEM Guelph, helped us find Biobricks for testing and assisted in developing a testing method for measuring the protein production of said BioBricks.
Ottawa iGEM - Software Troubleshooting
Collaboration with the university of Ottawa's iGEM team consisted of design considerations as well as general help troubleshooting issues that were encountered. Idea generation and evaluation for the design of our device's casing was done with input from the uOttawa iGEM team over a collaborative document editor with colour-coded entries. Advice was also sought during a frustrating impasse with the HC-05 Bluetooth module and its functionality.
Most Asked Questions About Genetic Engineering
Collaboration with iGEM teams from(in alphabetical order):
- National Chiao Tung University (Post-production)
- University of British Columbia (filming)
- University of Calgary(filming)
- University of Toronto(filming)
- University of Ottawa (filming)
- University of Oxford (filming)
Genetic engineering has gained increasing attention over the years, but it has also received significant rejection and criticism. Due to its interdisciplinary nature and versatility, the general public might seek explanation and clarification for its potentially controversial usage. We hope to address some of the most googled questions about genetic engineering with students from iGEM teams around the world. We invited six other teams to be part of this project, and we joint our effort and knowledge to create a video that is informative, fun, and targeted for the average person. We understand the importance of transparency, and allowing members of the community to have greater insights in the world of synthetic biology might create a smoother path for future iGEM teams and researchers in the field.
UBC: CBD Changes in E. coli Transcription
In collaboration with UBC, we looked into whether cannabinoid exposure has an effect on the E. coli transcriptome. Out of 1536 promoters tested, 36 were activated by CBD exposure. Future studies aim to screen the promoters.
The Ontario Genetically Engineered Machine Network
oGEM is an annual meeting hosted by iGEM teams in Ontario, Canada. This meeting is meant to serve as a platform for all the participating iGEM teams to share our project and connect with each other. This year, oGEM decided to host two meetings to facilitate each other on different stages of our projects.
1st oGEM Meeting - Western iGEM
We had the pleasure to meet with members of Western iGEM, iGEM Guelph, iGEM Toronto, and iGEM ULaval. Each team prepared a presentation on their project and progress, and we exchanged ideas on potential collaborations, funding applications, reagents acquisition, and team organizations. It seemed that each team was facing different challenges in the process and we were able to provide advice for one another. QGEM was able to invite fellow iGEM members to join the production of our educational video and had also been invited to be part of iGEM Toronto and iGEM Chalmers Gothenburg’s Clean-up video. Additionally, we initiated a conversation with iGEM Guelph on assistance for our wetlab troubleshooting.
2nd oGEM Meeting - iGEM Guelph
This meeting was held by iGEM Guelph in early October 2019 as a mini competition for iGEM teams to practice their presentation and receive peer feedback for the Jamboree. QGEM attended this meeting along with Western iGEM, iGEM Toronto, and iGEM ULaval, iGEM McMaster and Waterloo iGEM. iGEM Guelph was able to invite various professors and professionals including Dr. Malcolm Campbell, the Vice Present (Research) in the University of Guelph. All the teams had incredibly innovative projects and informative presentations. iGEM Guelph had prepared feedback forms for every team to fill out and we have received lots of compliments on the organization of our presentation and many constructive feedbacks. Towards the end of the meeting, the CEO of Ontario Genomics, Dr. Bettina Hamelin, gave a speech on their recent efforts in encouraging the development in synthetic biology and had shown willingness to support students in the field to connect with the industry.
Concordia held a mini iGEM event, where teams could practice their presentations in-front of iGEM judges, and gain valuable feedback on their work. The feedback our team gained from this event was incorporated into our presentations and poster. Additionally, it allowed us to have one-on-one talks with the judges, who provided us with valuable information about what they are looking for in a project.
iGEM Ottawa collected and organized protocols from iGEM across the globe, in hopes to provide future iGEM teams with the means to better start their own projects. QGEM provided over a dozen protocols to their database, including how to make your own media, to protein expression.
Other contributing teams:
- US AFRL Carroll High School iGEM
- Vellore Institute of Technology iGEM
- University of Virginia iGEM
- Federal University of Amazonas iGEM
- TU Dresden iGEM
- University of Tartu Institute of Technology iGEM
- University of Lethbridge iGEM
- Laval University iGEM
- University of Calgary iGEM
- Lambert High School iGEM
We partook in a Golden Gate-Webinar, lead by iGEM Marburg. The webinar was focused on the advantages of Golden Gate cloning, as compared to restriction enzyme cloning. Additionally, Marburg provided us with information about softwares that may be used to design constructs for Golden Gate assembly.
iGEM for Environment Promotional Video
iGEM Chalmers Gothenburg from Sweden is working on a project that aims to engineer a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast that is able to degrade PCBs found in plastics. They started an international initiative that encourages iGEM members to consider the negative environmental impacts of plastic use. QGEM has contributed to their promotional video by organizing a street clean-up in Kingston and filming the process. We thought it was a meaningful project and we appreciated the opportunity to do something for the environment.
Meeting with Oxford iGEM
We were lucky enough to meet David Schramm, one of Oxford iGEM team’s co-leaders, during his short stay in Ottawa. Since we were collaborating on the video, QGEM was especially excited to meet up and chat with a team from overseas. We had a long chat about each of our projects and we were intrigued by their solution to C. difficile infections– by engineering normal flora to release engineering lactobacillus, a normal flora to release molecules that target and lyse C. difficile. We also discussed our team dynamics and organizations, management of funding, and logistics for the Giant Jamboree.
Meeting with Waterloo
We met with Dylan, a member of Waterloo iGEM during his visit to Kingston. We were really happy to chat with fellow iGEM teams, and we started our discussion with methods of gathering funding. This was because their team had expressed frustration in getting enough support since their University has a large number of engineering teams. We shared our experiences in registering for student fees, creating sponsorship packages, and our method of approaching sponsors at conferences and events. We later spoke about the modelling of our project, and Dylan provided us with several ideas as Waterloo iGEM has very talented mathematic and engineering students on their team and are experienced in coming up with interesting ways to model their project.
Stony Brook Instagram Challenge
iGEM Stony Brook University has created multiple Instagram challenges this summer to promote unity between iGEM teams and help increase each other’s internet footprint. QGEM has recently joined Instagram and was very excited to participate in this fun challenge. Some of the activities and social media postings included an introduction to our project, making of an iGEM meme, creating original agar art, lab bonding activities, presenting lab fails and many more. The agar gel shown on the left was created by our Director and WetLab lead to celebrate Toronto Raptors' incredible performance in the Eastern Conference Championship.
During the Canada SynBio Conference held by Ontario Genomics earlier in the year, QGEM had networked with Orpheus Medica Inc, a Canadian biopharmaceutical company leading innovation in the development of cannabinoid therapeutic agents. Dr. Dea Shahinas, the Director at OM, shown great interest in our project and was eager to learn more and support us. We were very grateful to have met with her later in the summer and received great advice on our project development, laboratory protocols, and hardware design. Orpheus Medica has been one of the biggest supporters of our project, they have been very generous with sharing lab reagents and giving professional insights to the industry.