Science is rarely a one (wo)man job and usually requires people with different backgrounds to work together to solve the challenges encountered. iGEM is no different. To encompass this spirit the iGEM 2017 Groningen team strives to work together with multiple teams on different aspect of our project and hopefully further strengthen connections within the iGEM community.
- To further develop and establish L. lactis as a chassis in iGEM we collaborated with the IGEM team of Sao Paulo. We sent them protocols since we have a lot of in house experience with working on lactis.
To help the Nottingham team we tested their E.coli RFP fluorescence in our lab to provide an external control. They sent us a protocol along with their cells, and we did the testing and sent them our results.
NAWI-Graz: Our friends from Austria are developing a bioelectronic interface controlled by bacterial GFP-expression. They have developed a software to validate part of their experiments. iGEM Groningen has worked together with them to design mazes and therefore improve the functionality and identify flaws in the design.
Virtual meet up Vilnius-Lithuania, Abu Dhabi (with follow up discussion)
We presented our project designs to each other and critically debated their feasibility as well as implementation of the final product. This helped us gain insight into possible experimental flaws. Abu Dhabi is also working on designing a cartridge, so their engineering advice was appreciated and contributed to improving our cartridge. We held a follow-up discussion to update on the progress achieved and get advice on the challenges met. We had a few issues with cloning and got some help that enabled us to get our construct from team Vilnius. We hoped our input also improved on their design.
Virtual meet up – ethics, Oslo, Graz, Zurich, Lund, Uppsala. Team Uppsala moderated a discussion together with Oslo, Graz, Zurich, and Lund about the ethical implications of our projects. The whole conversation was live streamed and can be found here. We tried to respond to the following questions:
- Uncontrolled Release. Can we anticipate how our Genetically Engineered Machine (GEM) would behave if released? What would be ideal conditions to grow and could they potentially be met? Can we anticipate any interactions with any form of wildlife? What would be ideal conditions to grow and could they potentially be met?
- Misuse. Can we think some steps ahead and imagine a potentially harmful usage with our open-source GEM?
The Benelux teams were invited to meet and present their ideas at the Benelux meetup and receive critical feedback from other teams, experts in the field and an iGEM HQ representative. Teams also participated in workshops to immerse ourselves in the shareholders perspectives and debate safety issues. The meeting was hosted by the Wageningen team.
The European iGEM meetup was held in Delft this year. The meet up started with a talk by Cees Dekker, a well-known physicist. It was quite interesting to hear about the common ground between physics and biology. After the break a lecture was given by Denis Murphy, he is involved in palm oil research. Palm oil is used a lot for cosmetics in richer countries, and for sustenance in poorer countries. He expanded on a specific application for genetic engineering for making sustainable palm oil plantations. The main event of the day was, of course, the poster presentations of all the iGEM teams. We walked around a lot, talking to pretty much every team at least once. It was very pleasant to see all the Dutch teams again here after we had previously met them during the Dutch iGEM meet up in Wageningen. During the entire event we "infected" other teams with our 3D printed bacteriophages. The last part of the day consisted of a BBQ with some drinks. We left together with some of the other teams and talked more about how our respective projects were progressing.
- Tolerance Photo Challenge - Technion Israel
To highlight the diversity and tolerance in our team we participated in the Tolerance photo challenge in conjunction with Technion, Isreal.
- Little snazzy man (Flat Stanly)–Caroll High school
Caroll High school got inspired for their collaboration by the book “Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown. A bulletin board falls on Stanley, he survives but is now flat. His altered form comes with some perks though, such as being able to slip under doors or being able to be mailed to California to meet his friends. Caroll HS also made a flat Stanley and mailed it to us, this time being a microbe. We welcomed it to our lab and made it an honorary team member.
- Online meet-up about fermentation factories – SCUT-FSE- China
We skyped with the team of the South China University of Technology about our respective projects. They are working to improve fermentation processes as well, using CRISPR in E.coli to defend against bacteriophages. We shared some insights about mutual problems we might encounter and the potential CRISPR offers to fermentation industries affected by phage infections.
- We developed our own card game and shared it with Team Franconia & in return also evaluated their card game. Their input helped us improve our design so that the game is a bit more fun and engaging. We hope our input also contributed to improving their game balance.
We were curious about the history of IGEM and have collaborated with the MIT team to visualize the development of tracks, teams, topics etc. MIT has provided us with a file stating these and Groningen has analyzed and visualized the content. This provides insight into how the competition has changed over the years, information about shifting interests and emerging trends and technologies.
To further strengthen the bond between different IGEM teams we also send & received post cards from different teams initiated by team Düsseldorf. The postcards should quickly highlight the main idea of the respective projects. We received a vast variety of post card designs and had a lot of fun reading through the other teams’ projects and designs.
OthersWe also participated in the surveys of the following teams to help them gather some data on their projects problems:
- Microfluidics survey – Boston university
- Survey about Cholera – INSA-UPS France
- Methane production - Nebraska- Lincoln
- Air pollution – Pasteur Paris
- Biological Material transport survey – Team Amazonas, Brazil
- Health care & liver cancer – Team Brit
- Genetic engineering & medicine – Team Cardiff
- Tell us about your chassis– Team IIT Madras
- Insulin accessibility – Syndney Australia
- GMO perception study - Sup’Biotech, Paris, France
- Heavy metal toxicity – DEI Agra, India
- Antibiotically resistant bacteria - UNBC- Canada
- Diabetics & Psicose - Evry, France
- Perspectives on Treatments for Illnesses Survey -Columbia University
- Lead Contamination in YOUR Drinking Water? - Team WPI Worcester
- Survey on Colorectal Cancer - Team Worldshaper-Wuhan
- CRISPR along the iGEM - Team Amazonas Brazil