Introduction: The ultimate goal of iGEM is to make the human world a better place, and our team is serious about implementing this concept. At the beginning of the project, we collected public opinion through questionnaires to ensure that our project was a realistic fit for the public's needs, and finally decided that the general direction of the project was to improve the content of microalgae oil, thereby reducing the cost of biodiesel production, promoting clean energy, and helping to improve climate change. In addition, we found from the questionnaires and dialogues with the community that there is a lack of public knowledge and misconceptions about the scientific aspects of synthetic biology and transgenic technology, which will guide us in the direction of our next education efforts.
Establishment of direction
When the project was initially carried out, we put out questionnaires to the community level in order to understand the real needs of the public. In this case, we conducted a pre-survey after online pre-research, with the aim of testing the questionnaire, identifying problems in the questionnaire through analysis and comparison of modeling, and adjusting it to ensure its reasonableness and validity. After conducting the formal survey, we placed it to 7 countries and finally received 620 valid questionnaires.
We set the question "Which of the following energy sources would you like to see as the main energy source for society in the future?" "What is your attitude towards biodiesel?" "What is your attitude towards biodiesel?" are questions related to new energy sources. Questions. Initially, we anticipated some possible directions, such as changing the composition of oil and grease, accelerating the expression of certain proteins to make it absorb more N and P, etc. However, the final data showed that the public had a more positive attitude towards new energy sources and a higher willingness to protect the environment by using biodiesel. Of course, the data also show that the public generally wants microalgae biodiesel to be cheaper, to have better fuel performance, to have good safety and so on. Based on this, we borrowed Phaeodactylum tricornutum as the chassis organism to determine the general direction of the project, that is, to enhance the oil content of Phaeodactylum tricornutum, and eventually to reduce the cost of biodiesel production to help its promotion and improve climate change. It can be said that this questionnaire survey has played a major role in laying the foundation of our project.
When we conducted community research, they gave similar responses, wanting biodiesel to be cheap, safe, and not perform worse compared to fossil fuels. Their statements further defined our project, and as a result we later conducted an analysis of the fraction of Phaeodactylum tricornutum oil and found that it was not very different from that of petroleum and contained higher levels of unsaturated fatty acids, which would be more conducive to its conversion to biodiesel.
In conclusion, the questionnaire provided very meaningful information about the general direction of our project, and in this way we explored the public's desires to move our project in the direction of real needs, which are important for the development of humanity towards a better future.
Our team has always believed that it is very important to popularize science to the general public, and this is actually related to one of our team members who was once insulted by someone for conducting experiments related to genetic modification in the laboratory.This made us realize the importance of a "popular science atmosphere".
We enhanced the photosynthetic efficiency of microalgae by exogenous induction and screened the target gene elements by qPCR. Finally, after several engineering iterations, we finally identified two gene elements, VTC2 (Part: BBa_K3812003) and UGP (Part: BBa_K3812002).
In both questionnaires and community research we have found that the general public is not aware of the subject of synthetic biology, and even students studying biology pages are ignorant of it. As a contemporary cutting-edge subject, it is necessary to establish a correct understanding of synthetic biology among the public. In fact, in the questionnaire, people gave feedback such as "genetic modification causes male sterility", "genetic modification causes crop extinction", "there are many examples in books about the dangers of genetic modification", etc. Very absurd reasons. So we wanted to add a section to education that would reach the public of all ages, and we finally decided to use science books to deliver science to people of all ages. The end result was remarkable and was well received at the community level. In response to previous feedback from the public about the puzzling example of genetic modification, we created a "Rumor Suppression Section" in the seminar, where we used examples of popular rumors in our lives and used scientific methods to counteract them in a powerful way. This is an important contribution to the elimination of some of these rumors at the societal level and to increasing the scientific literacy of the general public. You can find out more by clicking on Educiton.
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