During the German wide Meetup we discovered that our new immobilization matrix, the Peptidosomes, would fit perfectly to the goal the iGEMers from Team Aachen want to reach. They are modifying the baker yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae with the aim that it can uptake salts, mainly NaCl. With this skill the yeast could help to e.g. purify industrial process water before it is released into the environment.
As discussed in our safety section it is not easy to get a permission to use genetically modified organisms (GMOs) outside of S1 laboratories. Our Peptidosome could be a further step towards the permission for placing them on the market or a deliberate release. Working as a safety tool, additionally to the membrane system Team Aachen developed, the Peptidosomes could prevent the escape of the GMOs into the environment. To prove that encapsulation of yeast is possible, we performed a growth experiment and demonstrated with a plate reader assay that yeast was encapsulated in our Peptidosomes.
As it can be seen in Figure 1, the well scan of a Peptidosome with encapsulated yeast is positive. With the well-scan mode, we detected the fluorescent signal of S.cerevisae expressing the red fluorescent protein (RFP). Thereby, we proved that the encapsulation of yeast in Peptidosomes is indeed possible.
iGEM goes green
- We took the great opportunity at the German-wide Meetup to share our vision about green labwork.
- We informed and involved nine teams from Germany in an interactive workshop .
- The Teams from CCA-iGEM (San Diego, USA) and the iGEM Team Lund (Sweden) came up with great ideas to extend our GoGreenGuide.
- We also developed a Carbon Footprint Calculation Tool, where teams can easily determine the environmental impact of their laboratory work. Our team from TU Dresden, the iGEM Team of SDU-Denmark, Team Potsdam and Team Aachen have calculated their Carbon Footprint using this tool.
- As a symbolic act of sustainability, we asked all teams to plant trees. Here, the Teams of iGEM SDU-Denmark, iGEM Peshawar, and CCA iGEM got involved, too.
However, many more iGEM Teams participated by saving consumables and energy in the lab, biked to work or even became active in environmental projects.
See more on our iGEM goes green collaborations page.
The concept of the German-wide Meetup was as to gather all the teams to network and set up collaborations for the iGEM Giant Jamboree.
In the beginning of October, the team was a small group of Bachelor’s and Master’s students with very little diversity. By November, the team doubled in size and included members from many departments: CRTD, BIOTEC and the Biology Department at the TU Dresden. We became a truly international iGEM team, covering many disciplines and nationalities. With the resources we had pulled together now, we thought we can plan something big, a German-wide Meetup. We could host the meetup, using the whole of Dresden and be able to accommodate all the German iGEM teams. Out of the 13 that were invited, 9 came to the assembly, with a total of 50 people attending. The goals of the meetup were:
- Sharing our iGEM experience so far
- Getting to know the projects and visions of all attending teams
- Train the pitch and presentation skills in order to prepare for the Giant Jamboree
- Finding collaborations and strengthen the bonds between the teams
- Increasing the general knowledge about Synthetic Biology through conferences and events
- Having a fun weekend together
To prepare for the meetup, a team was assembled to manage and organize the scheduling, food costs, designs and logos, accommodation, etc. Sponsors had to be found and boxes had to be checked to make sure that nothing can go wrong for such a large occasion. Vier Vogel Pils sponsored the beer for the event, while Promega hosted a seminar on RT-qPCR. We had planned everything that by the time the conference came around, we were prepared.
The German-wide Meetup was hosted for the first time by the TU Dresden iGEM team. In a 3-day affair, 60 students from 11 universities attended with the aim to practice their presentation demeanor, setup future collaborations and most of all, make new friends ahead of the Giant Jamboree and have fun.
On Friday there were arrivals of our participants and their check-in in hostels, followed by exploring the city of Dresden and getting a chance to meet the fellow iGEM teams. Each participant received a name badge and a brochure containing the schedule of the event as well as some Promega giveaways.
Saturday started off with a few introductory talks, as well as the presentation of “iGEM Goes Green”; part of the project of our iGEM team to push sustainability and environmentally-friendly lab work. Next, each attending team was given the chance to present their own project ideas; with the intent of promoting inter-lab collaborations.
Among the Sunday events there were two workshops, held in smaller groups. The participants chose between the option to take part in speed datings for the last-minute collaboration agreements or an introduction workshop of iGEM goes green with interactive tasks on how to calculate the greenhouse gas emission of their projects and exploring ideas for more sustainable lab work.Schedule Meetup
The teams had 15 minutes to present their project and 5 minutes for Q&A. Other teams challenged the presenters with tough questions, much like the judges will at the Giant Jamboree, preparing the teams to be clear and concise for future presentations.
During the pauses, coffee, fruits and vegetables were provided to keep the teams energized and focused for the long days. Beer was provided as well, courtesy of local brewery, Vier Vogel Pils. After a day filled with amazing talks, the teams were invited for a tour through Dresden, seeing the major sites and afterwards we had a Tortilla party and we played different national drinking games. It was a great bonding session and a good way to start the evening before going to the bars in the town.
According to our sustainability goals of iGEM goes green we greatly reduced the amount of meat provided for the Tortilla Party and invested in vegetable and soya fillings with various delicious dips instead. Furthermore, we avoided the use of disposable tableware and provided public transport tickets for the teams during the Meetup.
See more on our iGEM goes green page.
Prof. Dr. Thorsten Mascher
Chair of General Microbiology (TU Dresden)
Dr. Mascher is the supervisor of the TU Dresden iGEM team and serial competitor in iGEM, leading the LMU Munich teams in the past. His research focuses on Bacillus subtilis, a spore-producing bacterium, and focuses on gene networks and systems biology. His talk discussed B. subtilis as a model organism and his previous endeavors in iGEM competitions.
Mr. Thiele is the Dresden regional representative for Promega. He gave an interesting presentation discussing hints and pitfalls when performing RT-qPCR to get optimal results.
Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Braun
Institute of Biofunctional Polymer Materials (IPF)
Dr. Braun is a professor at the Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research in Dresden and his research focuses on micro- and nanostructuring techniques for polymers and liquids. His presentation focused on the self-assembly of diphenylalanine motifs and its mechanism as well as discussing his experiences in judging and supervising a team in a different biology competition.
9 Teams attended the German-wide Meetup:
This year our team had a great opportunity to participate in the postcard exchange campaign initiated by the iGEM Team Cologne-Duesseldorf. Without missing a chance to spread the word about our team’s project and iGEM goes green, we decided to incorporate our enthusiasm coupled with creative imagination to design even two postcards for our team. Our team's postcard with information about the project and a postcard with information about iGEM goes green.
After iGEM Team Cologne-Duesseldorf had taken care of distributing each team's masterpieces all over Europe, we were thrilled to receive from them a package of postcards created by the other 26 European iGEM teams and made sure once more that we took part in a really rewarding and valuable collaboration!
Learning about other iGEM teams’ fascinating projects, we joyfully decorated the main working point of our team with freshly received one-of-a-kind postcards and decided to share them among as many people as possible. Newly arrived TU Dresden students from different corners of the world were happy to find their postcards in the welcoming bags presented them by our university. Moreover, the postcards were shared by our team members with people coming from different backgrounds in their neighborhoods and local university communities.
We would like to thank iGEM Team Cologne-Duesseldorf for the organisation of this campaign and every iGEM team for their participation, creation of amazing postcards and willingness to increase public awareness about iGEM.
Synthetic biology is worth spreading and we are happy that iGEM provides us with the opportunity to do so!