Team:Brno Czech Republic/Safety

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Safety first and foremost

At Masaryk University we are taking great care of safety in our laboratory facilities. Every year we have a compulsory lecture focused on handling chemical substances. We are aware of the danger which could lead from handling GMO’s. Because of this, we decided to undergo other additional training to focus on this issue, which brought us a better understanding and view on this problem.

We are also aware of problems with releasing genetically modified bacteria into the environment. Prevent these potential risks, we focused on immobilisation of bacteria into biofilm covered with hydrogel (as you can see in the section Experimental design). Due to lack of time we were not able to perform this immobilisation part’s experiments in the lab but we will continue to work on this issue in the future.

Lab safety

We realized the experimental part of our project in laboratories certified for work with genetically modified organisms. These laboratories fall under the safety levels 1 and 2. Each member of the team who took part in the work in the laboratory first had to undergo safety training provided by CEITEC Masaryk University.

During our work in the lab, we were supervised by PIs and Ph.D. students. Always keeping in mind our safety, we have never worked in the lab individually and also, some employees were always present in the building and were ready to assist us if necessary.

Furthermore we always were aware of many risk factors present in our lab, therefore we maintained maximal vigilance and used protective gloves, lab coats, glasses, flowboxes etc. Contamination of our cultures as well as the threat of leakage of genetically modified bacteria to the environment was also prevented by these items. This risk factor was limited also by maintaining regular hand washing, disinfection of surfaces etc.

To prevent samples cross contamination we had a very sophisticated system of sample labeling.

It goes without saying, insite our laboratory facilities we are not allowed to drink and eat.

Risk factors

  • Microorganisms
  • We worked with bacteria which are generally evaluated as GRAS, specifically Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis. All of our GMO contaminated waste was handled by the Department of Microbiology of Masaryk University, where our lab was located.

  • Ethidium bromide
  • At the beginning of the experiments we used Ethidium Bromide. Appropriate equipment for manipulation with agarose gels were used such as laboratory coats, glasses and special gloves, which were after staining immediately discarded. Any other experiments were not allowed to be performed in the area of the working place for Ethidium Bromide.

    Due to less danger during experiments, we after several weeks switched form EtBr to much safer gel stain - Midori. Despite relatively safe manipulation with Midori, we worked with this chemical in fume hood.

  • Acrylamide
  • Although we planned to work with acrylamide, there was no time to perform any experiments, which included this chemical.

  • UV light
  • We used UV to sterilize our flowboxes and other work surfaces. UV was also used to visualize DNA in the agarose gel. When working with this risk factor we always worked with proper protection such as glasses, face shield or protective glass.

Sars-cov-2 precaution

Thanks to the favourable pandemic situation, we were allowed to access the laboratories during all the summer. However, anti-epidemic measures were always maintained. To limit as much as possible the likelihood of the spread of infection our team is fully vaccinated.