After speaking to Exeter at the UK iGEM Meetup we arranged a collaboration. Initially, we had multiple ideas of how to collaborate, involving using some specialised equipment we had access to at Cardiff University. However, in the end we arranged an experiment to validate the hypothesis that they are working on for their project. They were interested in testing the use of UV as a bactericide, as a way to ensure the biosafety of their filter model.
Exeter sent us a protocol, which we followed. We showed that UV treatment reduced bacterial growth and therefore that UV acts as an effective bactericide. However surprisingly we found that the shortest time of UV treatment (1 minute) was sufficient to reduce bacterial growth by greater than 90%. However extending the treatment time up to 20minutes did not further reduce the amounts of bacterial growth. They have published this data on their own wiki.
Valencia UPV contacted us as both teams were working on similar expression systems, using tobacco plants. We began by setting up meetings over Skype to discuss our projects and begin to understand ways we could collaborate. We began discussing the different promoters both teams were trying to synthesise, and agreed that we could validate the promoter in one another’s expression system to confirm its function. However, due to time constraints we were unable to complete the experiment to test Valencia’s PR1:Luc+:NosT construct, which they had created and sent to us. We also encountered issues generating our WRKY:Luc+:NosT construct that we had aimed to send to Valencia, meaning we could not complete the collaboration.
However speaking to Valencia UPV iGEM’s team proved very useful, as their host lab has a lot of experience using plant expression systems and we are using this system for the very first time in Cardiff. Therefore during our discussions with them we were able to understand where some of our experiments may have been going wrong.
Early on in our project, we used social media to offer to conduct collaborations with teams who were interested in using a plant expression system for their experiments. Following this tweet WashU iGEM got in touch with us, showing interest in expressing their protein of interest in plants.
Their project aimed to develop a strategy to reduce UV damage in photosynthetic organisms, but were unable to express the system in plants due to lack of specialist resources. We set up a skype meeting to talk about the collaboration in which we suggested the experiments that we could conduct that would successfully test their hypothesis. These experiments involved using a phenotypic assasy to assess the effect of UV damage on tobacco leaves that had been inflitrated with a clone expressing their protein of interest.
Unfortunately WashU were unable to generate their clones in the Phytobrick standard so we were unable to take this collaboration foward.