Lab safety focusses on a certain “code of conduct” of which lab workers need to comply with. Lab safety
is relatable to biosafety and biosecurity as it is trying to diminish the possible negative effects of
both. Complying with lab safety rules should therefore be taken seriously, as it is the first step
towards overall safety.
Before we started in the lab, we had an extensive lab safety tour that included both lab as well as
general safety rules. In advance of this lab tour, we were obliged to take a test, which needed to be
passed before partaking in the lab safety tour. The modules which were covered by this test, and later
also in the lab safety tour, included working with chemicals, cleaning and waste, ethics, lab journal,
lab rules, labeling, safety equipment and ‘in case of emergency’ instructions.
Within the Xylencer project, we have worked in two different types of lab facilities, namely ML-1 and
ML-2 (equal to Biosafety level (BSL) 1 and BSL2). These facilities are based upon the amount of
containment needed to decrease the risk associated with microorganisms classified in a certain risk
group. Microorganisms are usually scaled in four different risk groups, but not necessarily equal to the
lab facility level. The classification of an organism can differ among country or region, depending on
the situation. The general classification of a microorganism is based on four criteria [1, 2]:
Pathogenicity of the organism.
Transmission capability. This will highly influence the classification, depending on for instance
the population density of a region, vectors present and general hygiene.
Local care of preventative measures.
Local care for effective treatment.
For each new GMO, we assessed whether we were allowed to work with this organism in an ML-1 or ML-2
setting. We discussed this with several people from the labs, like the technicians, but we also gained
information via the biosafety officers of Wageningen University.
To guarantee safety and to comply with all biosafety rules, we decided to not perform experiments with
the specific organisms as we did not have a specialized lab for this. Therefore, we do not perform
experiments with X. fastidiosa at our lab and only perform limited experiments with Xanthomonas
campestris pv. campestris at a specialized lab. This was necessary as these bacteria are classified
ML-2 containment organisms in the Netherlands. Furthermore, we only used E. coli and S.
chassis organisms. Working with these organisms is classified as ML-1 containment. The only work carried
out in the ML-2 lab was when working with bacteriophage Lambda and T7. Although this was not because of
biosafety considerations, but rather overall safety for other experiments carried out in the ML-1 labs.
This bacteriophage could infect E. coli and therefore pose danger to other experiments.