Team:Bielefeld-CeBiTec/Human Practices Overview


In order to develop and improve P.L.A.N.T. – Plant-based Ligand Activated Noxious agent Tracker - our plant based detection system for chemical degradation products, we were in constant contact with different experts and stakeholders throughout the year. With their help, we were able to adjust and optimize the concept of our plant based detection system.


Our vision was to create a community that supports future iGEM-Teams who plan to work with phototrophic organisms, to start a dialogue with further teams, to help and learn from each other. Our goal was to create a sustainable community that not only stands behind new teams but also creates a shared collection of knowledge in the form of our Phototrophs-Handbook over the years.

In our partnership with iGEM Marburg, we set the basis for such a community and created a handbook in cooperation with further iGEM teams. This way we will be able to help future iGEMers, but also scientists beyond iGEM, working with phototrophic organisms from all around the world.


Synthetic biology is a very complex topic and difficult to understand for young children and even adults. Therefore, we created an educational podcast ‘Ask Nici’, which answers questions asked by children. Our goal is to introduce a broader audience to synthetic biology, independent of age and prior knowledge, and show them the exciting world of science to engage with. To accomplish that, our main focus are biological questions of children’s everyday life, especially in times of the pandemic. We explain the basic concepts to give everyone the opportunity to understand the background of synthetic biology in everyone’s life. Thereby, we give examples how it can be used to help humanity in a sustainable and efficient way. We shared ‘Ask Nici’ on several platforms and integrated it in an educational program of the largest German biotechnology student association btS to engage with schools. To reach people all over the world, we created a booklet which was translated into 15 languages.


Throughout the year, we were in close contact with experts from Bielefeld University as well as with external stakeholders and experts. Their input had an impact both generally on the direction of our project as well as on very specific details in the lab. We would like to thank all the experts who took the time to talk to us about aspects of our P.L.A.N.T. project during the last year.


Legal aspects & possible biocontainment strategies

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) can be used in several sections thus they have high potential to be used in the future. While other countries like China or India already commercialised the usage of GM crops the EU still has strict regulations. According to scientists the usage of GMOs have no high risks because the genes are being modified directly instead of spontaneously. Nevertheless working and releasing GMOs still involve risks that can occur in the future. Therefore a lot of people are concerned regarding the topic of GMOs and their benefits. But before releasing a GMO several criterias and laws have to be taken into consideration as well as the costs that will emerge. Afterwards the problems regarding the future prospect have to be considered as well to prevent side effects. To minimize the likelihood of the occurrence of side effects the release has to be documented and monitored thus potential risks and prevention methods have to be clarified beforehand.