The emergence of multidrug-resistant bacteria, or “superbugs,” has become an urgent and
concern. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause significant morbidity and mortality.
What we do will yield unlimited benefit to therapeutics, rather than create new superbugs.
So we promise none of the organisms we use
pose a risk to the
safety and health of team
members, and no organism can cause infection or adverse health effects or symptoms.
The detailed safety measures can be found below.
Prior to Experiment
Safety form and Check-in
When coming up with our project, we regard the safety assessment as a necessity. After all we
have to ensure team members’ health before aiming at theraupetics.
First and foremost, we completed the safety form and used the check-in forms as a precaution to obtain permission of working with these antibiotic resistance genes from iGEM Safety and Security Committee.
We started up with constructing our parts of beta-lactamase genes only after we received the approval from safety committee.
Before we were allowed to enter the laboratory, we were given a course called Biosafety and bioethics.The teachers informed us of all the potential risks and dangers associated with the use of different chemicals, techniques, and equipment, as well as how we could minimise these risks. Following this, we were given a laboratory induction by the teacher who demonstrated the safest and most efficient ways to carry out the protocols we would require.
All of our team members have passed the bio-safety training and testing required by laboratory assistants and engineers, and only after passing the tests can we conduct experiments. The standard of passing this test is 90%.
We took part in a fire drill organized by our school and learned how to use fire extinguishers, so that we can be more calm when encountering fire hazard and protect ourselves more effectively.
About laboratory waste
“To prevent gene transfer in laboratory, some measures should be taken. There are commonly two ways to handle with waste of bacterial liquid, adding high concentration of NaOH and adding chlorine-containing disinfectant. You are supposed to follow the laboratory rule and take care of your waste. ”
Kind of bacteria
Our project poses little risk to the students, as for the only organism used in our project is a commonly used lab-strain of Escherichia coli, which is designated as a biosafety level 1 organism.
Aseptic techniques are always used when handling live culture or confexting some
Super clean bench is used when doing any operations about living bacteria, for example, taking monoclones from colony in plate.
Gloves and lab coats are required to wear as soon as we step into the laboratory. Our dressing seriously follow BSL-1 laboratory standard.
Emergency eye washer is situated outside of our lab, together with aid supplement and fire extinghuishers.
EB contaminated area
Agarose gel analysis of DNA is performed with Ethidium Bromide stain and always imaged safely in a gel imager. We are required to wear double gloves when adding EB into agarose gel. And all of the facilities such as measuring cylinder in this contaminated area cannot be taken to other benches.
We never work in the lab alone and there have been a minimum of two or more students from the team at all times. In addition to this, a responsible from our supervisors research group have been available and nearby at all times.
Under no circumstance were food or drinks permitted in the lab.
Our lab follows China National Institute of Pathogenic Microorganisms Biosafety Management and Tianjin University Laboratory Safety Rules.
Gene Transfer Prevention
Bacteria have three methods by which DNA may be transferred from one cell to another:
transformation, transduction and conjugation.
Plasmids and conjugative transposons transfer from one cell to another by mechanisms that involve replication. Transposons, gene cassettes and ISCR-mediated gene transfer between sites on the same or on different DNA molecules require some form of recombination. Plasmids accumulate antibiotic resistance genes as a consequence of the activities of at least these three recombination systems.
Transposon, Tn3, encoding resistance to a number of beta-lactam antibiotics, and blaVIM and blaIMP belonging to metallo-beta-lactam antibiotic genes (class B) are found transferring via gene cassettes.
Since the detailed mechanism of these recombination systems of gene transfer remains
unclear, the only thing we have to do—the most important thing at the same time—is to
the genes in order to prevent its spread inside or outside the lab.
Precautions for handling and disposal of wasted bacteria-contained medium were carried out according to its standard operating procedures. Meanwhile, we have a special waste liquid bucket to collect the bacterial liquid and treat it with high concentration of NaOH.
The only organism used in our project is a commonly used lab-strain of Escherichia coli, which
is designated as a biosafety level 1 organism. Also, beta-lactamase resistance genes we use were
synthesized by the company, and we will carry out transformation experiments in E.coli,
simulating drug-resistant pathogens with non-pathogenic E.coli that carry antibiotic genes.
To prevent antibiotic-resistant genes being released into the environment, all of the operations related to living bacteria carried with them are in the clean bench. All of the bacterial liquid is collected specially in a waste bucket with high concentration of NaOH to kill phage and change the structure of DNA. Used tubes and plates are all autoclaved.
Subsequent to Experiment
All of the waste would be divided into relevant categories and collect each of them separately.
There are some mini dustbins on the table collecting pipettes and microtube, and by the end of a
day’s experiment we will pull them out into dust bin in the lab. And the person on cleaning duty
that day is responsible for changing the yellow garbage bag and taking the full bag to school’s
Useless bacterial liquid are pulled in a bucket together with high concentration NaOH. This bucket is experimented with two lids, meeting our country’s standard.
As mentioned, our lab has different person on cleaning duty everyday in turn and all of our team
members are on the list. Not only should this one deal with garbage, but he is also required to
wipe and mop the ground, clean the public table, check facilites and note all of his tasks in
70% ethanol is used for disinfection anytime.
Everyone has formed the habit of washing hands with antibacterial hand sanitizer at the exit of labtorary when finishing experiments.
 iGEM team UiOslo_Norway 2016.
Safety. Oct., 2016.
 Regulations on Biosafety Management of Pathogenic Microorganism Laboratories. China State Council.2018.4. http://www.mee.gov.cn/home/ztbd/swdyx/2010sdn/zcfg/201001/t2010011.
 Bennett, P.M., 2008. Plasmid encoded antibiotic resistance: acquisition and transfer of antibiotic resistance genes in bacteria. Br. J. Pharmacol. 153 (S1), 347–357.
 Jing Y.X., Connie L., Baowei C., Hongquan Z., Urban recreational water – potential breeding ground for antibiotic resistant bacteria? Journal of environmental sciences. 81(2019), 1-3.