To encourage the communication and cooperation between iGEMers and accelerate the development of iGEM competition and synthetic biology in southwest China, China iGEM Southwest Union(iSWU) was founded in 2015. In 2017, aimed at closer cooperation in the project design, the China iGEM Southwest Union meet-up was hosted in April by the team “SCU-WestChina” in Huaxi Campus of Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan. This year, the union is composed of iGEMers from Sichuan Agricultural University（SiCAU-China）, Sichuan University(SCU-China and SCU-West China), and Third Military Medical University(TMMU-China).
iSWU meet-up was held in the beginning of project determination this year, which was aimed at enhancing allied communication and cooperation on project design. In the iSWU meet-up, each iGEM team gave a presentation of respective project, and after the presentations there would be a panel session, where audiences could ask questions about the projects which they are interested in. Via these communications, we knew what others had done, what challenges they had met, what we could do to help them, and what they could do to help us.
In this meetup, team
“SCU-WestChina” showed their project “Blocking Urate Storm in the Blood” of that
day, in which they wanted to apply attenuated Salmonella typhimurium in their
dialysis-like device. In the meeting, team “TMMU-China” and we both raised the
question – why use Salmonella typhimurium, a kind of pathogenic bacteria, instead of
a kind of probiotic bacteria, such as lactococcus lactis or Bacillus subtilis, which
may reduce their workload and enhance biosafety. After their comprehensive
consideration, they adopted our suggestion. Nevertheless, when team “SCU-WestChina”
showed that they would measure the absolute strength of the constitutive promoter
family (including BBa_J23100, etc.) to meet the need for their modeling, we
suggested that they can try to measure it with RiboJ, a ribozyme which self cleaves,
removing the upstream region, most importantly the 5’ untranslated region. Because
according to 2016 William and Mary’s results, RiboJ can eliminate the effect of
different coding sequence on the gene expression dynamics, we thought it may
effectively improve the reliability of “SCU-WestChina”’s measurement and modeling.
And then, our advice was integrated with SCU-WestChina’s measurement. What’s more,
we were inspired by their modeling of constitutive promoter family to make our
modeling of enzyme kinetics by ourselves, in order to achieve more efficient
production of melatonin with reasonable formula of enzymes.
At that time, we still had
3 alternative projects, one of which is about oral vaccine of rabies. After our
presentation of our three candidate projects, instructor of Team “TMMU-China”, a
professor with vast experience in immunology research, reminded us that such
immunology experiments are extremely time-consuming and the results of such
experiments usually are non-predictable, which may be exceedingly hard to finish the
project of oral vaccine rabies in no more than 3 months. Comparing this project to
our other two projects and considering his advice carefully, we gave up this project
and chose the project, “Rhythmic Production of Melatonin in E.coli”, ultimately.
On the other hand, communication and collaboration of iSWU was not only at the meet-up, but also before and after the meeting.
Before the iSWU meet-up, team “SiCAU-China”, a new iGEM team, contacted with us for some parts in 2016 DNA distribution to prepare for their preliminary experiments. And we took those plasmids to them at the meetup. Caused by our carelessness, we put the LUDOX in the -20 degrees centigrade as we did last year, leading to all of LUDOX in 2017 kit precipitating. However, we wanted to participate in this year’s InterLab study, which should use LUDOX as materials. Thus, we sought help in the Wechat group of “iSWU”; thankfully, team “SiCAU-China” provided us with LUDOX in their measurement kit immediately, which is vital for us to finish our InterLab study.
We really enjoyed ourselves communicating with so many other iGEMers and developed a lot of new ideas about our project. The iSWU provide a communication platform and collaboration opportunities for iGEMers in Southwest union,which is good for improving the iGEM project and giving a new sight. At the same time, the union is propitious to the development of iGEM in southwest China.We are looking forward to the coming of more new friends.
To communicate with other iGEM teams and get more reliable resources, we attended 2017 Conference of China iGEMer Community (CCiC) hosted by team “FAFU-China” in Fuzhou. During the meeting, we got much help from others and solved some problems we had met.
CCiC is a large conference for Chinese iGEMers which is aimed at dealing with the conflict between the longing for doing something great in synthetic biology and the lack of technology research resources. Each year, many iGEM teams from different provinces of China will get together in CCiC to communicate with each other and get more basic knowledge, innovative ideas, useful experiences, leading– edge technology, scientific supports, bacterial species and other available resources.
2017 CCiC contained keynote speaks, project introductions, panel sessions, poster sessions, special talks, Hq face to face and salons. Some young scientists gave us keynote speaks about synthetic biology, which broadened our horizon and let us know more about advanced biological technology. Each iGEM team was asked to provide a speech introducing their projects. And after the speeches there would be a panel session, where audiences could ask questions about the projects which they were interested in. From these communications, we knew what others had focused on, what they had done and what they could do to help us. On the other hand, we also provided them with some suggestions which might give them a hand. In poster sessions, we displayed our poster and learned how to present our project better from other teams, for example, some anthropomorphic images and descriptions could be used.
When we introduced our project, we attracted people’s attention successfully. Many people showed their interest in our project in the panel session and they also gave us some good suggestions.
After our presentation, Dr. Zhang (Haoqian Zhang) showed his appreciation to our idea, and he also told us it was better to knockout the enzymes rather than cut off the tag if we wanted to make repressilators more stable.
Also, we learned about other teams’ projects, asked them questions and gave them some suggestions.
In poster session, an advior of team “NUDT_China” was interested in our subproject “Melatonin”, and suggested us to mix the first three enzymes with different formula in vitro to find the best formula with the modeling results. And his suggestion fitted right in with our design.
We also talked with students from team “Shanghaitech”. We exchanged our thoughts on InterLab study. One of their students asked us why the fluorescence was under expectation when the concentration of fluorescein was high. We told them it might be the result of inner filter effect. Coincidently, we found that project of team “Peking” this year has close relation to repressilator, which is vital to our project. Thus, our two teams had a deep communication about the design and related experiments of repressilator. What’s more, after CCiC, we still stayed in contact. And once we turned to them for ΔclpXP E.coli strain, they mailed it to us, which really did us a great favor. In CCiC, we showed our project in many ways, by speech, by poster, by introduction…. And so did other teams. So that, we could learn from other teams how to present our project better and make it more attractive. Generally speaking, CCiC is an excellent opportunity for us to communicate with other iGEMers and improve our project. What’s more, it have greatly promoted the development of synthetic biology and iGEM in China.