This is the first year that our university is participating in the iGEM competition. Therefore we had neither PIs that knew their way around iGEM, nor existing structures at our university. Hence, when we first met with René Inckemann at the meetup in Munich back in 2018 and the mentoring program came up, we of course jumped right at the opportunity. The mentoring began by having regular Skype calls with René, who already participated in the iGEM competition multiple times and whose team even won the grand price last year. In those calls, we discussed everything from Human Practices to general guidelines. We met René again at the meetup in Düsseldorf along with his team, where we discussed further things regarding bronze, silver and gold criteria.
We are very thankful for René’s help and guidance.
Collaboration with the iGEM Team of Marburg
Since we already started last year in October, we could meet Team Marburg on a Meetup in Munich. We later met Team Marburg again at the Meetup in Düsseldorf, where we discussed our laboratory collaboration, the Interlab-study. The aim of this collaboration was to check the efficiency of their protocol, which is based on Golden-Gate-Cloning. Therefore, team Marburg sent us, as well as many other teams a level 0 part. Every team they sent it to transformed it according to said protocol and tested the secretion level to compare the transformation success. Also, we attended the webinar René gave to Golden Gate Cloning.
If you would like to know more about Team Marburg’s project, click here.
Collaboration with the iGEM Team of Sorbonne:
The Chlamy Guide
Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has many positive characteristics. It is a photoautotrophic organism, is easily transformed and readily applies posttranslational modifications. With these being just a few of the many advantages of Chlamy, we were not surprised that team Sorbonne is also working with it. To improve our techniques and efficiencies we constantly exchanged information about our methods of working with Chlamy. This collaboration evolved to the idea of not only helping each other, but also future teams who want to use Chlamy as their chassis organism. Thus, we wrote a manual on how to handle Chlamy: "The Chlamy Guide”.
This guide contains the advantages of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and general information next to specific data on how to work with it. For more information you can find the guide here.
As a second part of our collaboration, we are testing the efficiency of our different transformation methods. While Team Sorbonne uses electroporation to get recombinant DNA into their green alga, our team uses a method involving glass beads. We decided to perform a transformation with a construct Team Sorbonne sent to us. This construct includes the Nano-Luciferase which makes it possible for both teams to measure the amount of protein being expressed and thus compare the transformation methods. Sadly, our transformation of the constructs Team Sorbonne sent us didn’t grow, after multiple attempts, when following their protocol.
If you would like to know more about Team Sorbonne’s project, click here.
Collaboration with the iGEM Team of HU Berlin
Right at the start of this year’s iGEM competition, we found out that the team of HU Berlin is working on a similar project as we are. Hence, the next logical step was to exchange information and to help each other as far as we could. Also, this gave us the advantage of being able to experiment on the same project but from slightly different angles. Since we work with the same organism, we supported the team of the HU Berlin by sending them our MHETase-construct. They additionally designed an MHETase with different introns, thereby we together gathered more data than one team could on their own. To further work together, we sent them our best transformant and data of its growth rate.Team HU Berlin measured it's growth rate in their bioreactor and compared it to an untransformed strain, as well as our data on said matter. Team HU Berlin also measured the expression of our MHETase to include it in their model.
If you would like to know more about Team Berlin’s project, click here.
Collaboration with the iGEM Team FAU Erlangen
At the beginning of august Team FAU Erlangen contacted us on Instagram. They had seen our crowdfunding campaign, through which we raised more than 12,000 € in one month. They were asking for advice since they wanted to start a crowdfunding campaign too. A few weeks later we discussed their idea via skype and talked about how to start a successful crowdfunding campaign. That gave us the idea to write a crowdfunding guide for our wiki to help other iGEM teams to start a successful campaign. We called it: “How to do Crowdfunding”. Two months later, they started their crowdfunding campaign and raised in only three days their first campaign goal of 1,000€.
You can find our crowdfunding guide here.
If you would like to know more about Team Erlangen’s project, click here.
Collaboration with the iGEM Team of Westminster:
Team Westminster is working on Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 to create more efficient microbial fuel cells by enabling it to reduce metals. In a Skype-call, we worked out the interesting idea of converting our end products EG and TPA into energy through their bacterium. Since we have a modeling collaboration, we exchanged data about the efficiency of our enzymes to calculate the amount of energy we can get out of a specific amount of PET. We also sent Team Westminster the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii strains CC1690, WTA and CW15(2) to test if their bacteria and our algae could live in a coculture. This would make it more efficient, as the whole reaction process would take place in one bioreactor.
If you would like to know more about Team Westminster’s project, click here.
In collaboration with Westminster
One of our team members had the great idea of an art contest that confronts people with genetic engineering. The participants could choose their style freely. In addition to their art piece, they had to write a short text about their opinion on genetic engineering and how their piece is related to it. The judging was differentiated into three age groups. The first one was up to 11 years, the second was from 12 to 17 years and the third group was 18 years and older. We also offered other teams the chance to participate in this contest as private artists or as a collaboration. In this case, every team collected art pieces from their town or region and sent them to us.
Here you can see some of the pieces:
Other Collaborations, Challenges, Surveys and Meetups
We participated in the Postcard Collaboration of Team Düsseldorf and the Mike the Microbe-Collaboration of Team USAFRL Carroll AS. We also took part in the Who-Wore-it-best Challenge of Team Stony Brook, in the xSDGs-challenge of Team Costa Rica, Team Tübingen and Team TAS Taipei and filled out a survey of Team MITADTBio Pune. Additionally, we attended the German Conference on Synthetic Biology and visited the following meetups: Munich, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Paris and Leuven.