Team:CHINA-FAFU/Science Communication

Science Comunication

No scientific communication means no scientific results. In order to make the experimental project move forward better and identify problems in time, we participated in online workshops,communicated with company technicians and interviewed professors, all of which helped our project a lot.

iGEMer's Online Conference

South China Exchange Meeting

At the beginning of August this year, we attended the iGEM Exchange and Gut Conference in South China, hosted by Shenzhen University. After presenting our project, we fully communicated with other teams and also actively answered questions from online participants. We gained a lot and found out the shortcomings of our project through comparison, which is very meaningful to continue improving our project. We also made contact with South China Agricultural University through this meeting to further discuss the next team collaboration.

CCiC Conference

Meanwhile, at the end of August, we also participated in the CCiC China iGEM Exchange hosted by Fudan University, with more than 80 teams from all over China. Through the presentations by academicians and project speeches by other teams, we think it is necessary to make some adjustments in the presentation format, to jump out of the previous situation of no real-world diagrams, so that people can understand our project more easily.

Cooperation with Shen Liu Company

At the beginning of April this year, we contacted Mr. Xie Jinjian, CEO of Fujian Shen Liu Group. After obtaining permission, we went to the company for an exchange interview. Fujian Shenliu Group is a Chinese health food GMP certified company, a technology-based industrial limited company specializing in the integration of spirulina farming, research and development, production and sales. During the visit, Mr. Xie told us that microalgae is a kind of nutrient-rich and powerful ability to synthesize oil, and he thinks the research project has great significance to the sustainable development of human beings. We did not expect such a positive response from Mr. Xie, which provided us with a moral support to carry out our project. During the visit to the runway pond, Mr. Xie told us that runway pond culture is the commonly used large-scale culture method in China, which is somewhat different from the sterile conical flask culture in the laboratory, and if we want to consider the practical application, we need to take into account various uncertainties such as contamination by miscellaneous bacteria, air environment changes, light changes, and other external disturbances.
After understanding that we had the idea of trying to improve the nutrients in microalgae, Mr. Xie suggested that we could try to improve the content of rockweed flavin, which is exactly the same as our previous idea. He also suggested that we could try to boost the content of DHA and EPA in it if we have the chance, which is also a huge application direction in infant formula.
He also told us that we should pay attention to the safety of GMOs in terms of biosafety. For microalgae, the most convenient way is to put the cultured microalgae into an oven and execute them at high temperature, but the safer way is definitely to modify them at the genetic level, which needs further research.
After both sides got to know each other well, we signed a partnership agreement to find more mutually beneficial opportunities in the future. Before we left, we collected 1.5L of spirulina from the runway pool with Mr. Xie Jinjian's permission for our subsequent comparative studies, etc.

Conversations with the professors

In order to solve the technical problems and progress directions encountered in the project, and to understand the shortcomings of the overall project, we approached the following four professors, who offered many pertinent suggestions to improve the project.

Prof. Ren Sen Zeng
In order to get a preliminary understanding of possible methods to increase the biomass and lipid content of Phaeodactylum tricornutum, we approached Prof. Ren-Sen Zeng ,He is Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, who is the Dean of the College of Agriculture, Director of the Institute of Crop Resistance and Chemical Ecology, President of the International Allelopathy Society, Chairman of Overseas Chinese He is also the President of International Allelopathy Society, Chairman of Overseas Chinese Entomologists Association, Director of International Society of Chemical Ecology, Secretary General of Asian Allelopathy Society, and an expert in the field of water chemical ecology mechanism and its signal transduction pathway. In the interview, Prof. Ren-Sen Zeng told us that synthetic biology is about metabolism, so we need to have a clear understanding of the metabolic pathways in microalgae. If we want to affect its oil synthesis at the metabolic level, what changes in the metabolic pathways within the cell are what we need to explore and, if possible, eventually make a picture to present.
He also told us that we can try to improve the lipid content of microalgae in several ways, most notably at two levels: the first is at the genetic level, where we need to understand which genes are synthesizing lipids, and we can either overexpress them or introduce lipid genes from other plants and microorganisms. The second is the level of metabolic regulation. He believes that since our experimental material is microorganisms, we can consider changing the nutrient composition, but also the temperature, PH, oxygen supply, etc., to stimulate the synthesis of lipids by artificially interfering with the external environment in Phaeodactylum tricornutum cells in Delta.
Regarding the genetic level, he believes that one can look for the overexpression premise needs to look for whether the oil-producing gene of the microalgae involves a gene cluster, or a very complex pathway. If there is a gene cluster, then it is relatively easy to achieve by regulating the gene cluster. He suggested that if we can find this rate-limiting gene, we can codon optimize it, i.e., "turn on" the rate-limiting enzyme to accelerate metabolite synthesis.
On the level of metabolic regulation, we have been culturing Phaeodactylum tricornutum at constant temperature, based on this point, Prof. Ren-Sen Zeng proposed an idea: if the optimal growth temperature is 25 degrees, but the optimal oil production temperature is 30 degrees, then we can control the temperature at 25 degrees in the early stage of culture, and when the biomass of Phaeodactylum tricornutum reaches the maximum, suddenly change the temperature of the incubator, so that it can produce fatty acids at the optimal oil production temperature with the maximum biomass.

Prof. Qin Yuan
In order to optimize how to synthesize oil from microalgae, we approached Professor Qin Yuan. She is the Dean of School of Life Sciences, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, the Executive Vice President of Strait Joint Research Institute of Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, the recipient of "National Excellent Youth Science Fund", the recipient of "Newton Senior Scholar Fund" of Sino-British Talent Program, the "Hundred Talents Plan" of Fujian Province, the Leading Talents of Fujian University, the Distinguished Professor of Fujian Province "Minjiang
Scholar", and the expert in the field of molecular regulation of plant development and plant adversity. "He is an expert in the field of molecular mechanism of plant development and molecular regulation of plant adversity development. Since our goal is to improve the lipid content and carbon sequestration of B. triangularis, we should understand when it has the maximum biomass and maximum lipid content. This can be done by modeling. And we can use the modeling calculations to determine the feasibility and then verify it experimentally..
In addition, Professor Qin reminds us that since we want to increase the lipid content by increasing the biomass of Phaeodactylum tricornutum cells, we should understand whether lipid accumulation has an effect on cell division, and if lipid accumulation inhibits cell division, then we should seek the optimal solution through experimental data and modeling.
Prof. Qin Yuan believes that since we want to reduce the cost of biodiesel production, we should compare with the existing plant production, for example, in which aspects we have reduced the cost and which are higher, how much higher the final net profit will be compared with the current method, where our innovation points are compared with the existing technology, and show with data how what we have done optimizes the current technology, so as to increase the conviction of the project.
Finally, the professor also showed her insights in terms of expanding the audience. From her own perspective, the tweets she wanted to click into must be the ones that caught her eye, and the ones she could read after clicking on them must be the ones she could understand, even if the content she was reading spanned a large area of expertise with what she was doing. So she suggested that the titles of our public tweets must be eye-catching, and that if we use too much jargon such as CRISPR-cas9 (a term used in previous tweets as the title), most people will not understand it and have no desire to click on it. She also suggested that our content should be easy to understand, and overly specialized expressions are not conducive to public reading and understanding. For a popular science book, she thought we could cite some of the popular rumors about GMOs in society and refute these false views with scientific explanations and experimental data.

Prof. Ying Miao
In order to understand how the genetic level can help Phaeodactylum tricornutum to improve its oil content and how to effectively popularize it to the public, we contacted Prof. Ying Miao, who is a DFG Distinguished Young Recipient of German Natural Science Foundation, a leading talent of Fujian University and a talent of Fujian Province "Hundred People Plan", a director of Chinese Society of Plant Physiology and Plant Molecular Biology, and a director of Fujian Society of Cell Biology. She is the director of the Chinese Society of Plant Physiology and Plant Molecular Biology, the vice president of the Cell Biology Society of Fujian Province, and the director of the Key Laboratory of Plant Functional Biology and Green Agriculture of Fujian Province.
"One gene corresponds to one or more functions," she says. As an expert in gene signaling, she believes that since we are doing research in synthetic biology, we can look at the genetic level to find ways to do this. She suggests that we could look for genes related to lipid synthesis in Phaeodactylum tricornutum, and if it is a cluster of genes, we could try to turn on the "rate-limiting genes" in it, which would increase the overall efficiency of synthesis. In addition, Prof. Ying Miao told us that cellular senescence involves a wide range of aspects, and the accumulation of lipids in microalgae cells is also related to cellular senescence, because senescence is reflected in transcriptional level, post-transcriptional level, metabolic level, hormone level, etc., and the accumulation of lipids is also a metabolic process. She told us that the aging process is actually a metabolic change process, just like
the aging of plant leaves, its nutrients may be transported outward, and the accumulation of oil in the aging process of microalgae may be toxic to the cell itself, which in turn will promote its aging, just like a double-edged sword.Moreover, the microalgae themselves can photosynthesize, and the increase of microalgae oil content must need to produce more organic matter, and the increase of organic matter must have the carbon sequestration process of chlorophyll. If the lipid content increases, it can be deduced that the amount of carbon sequestration must increase. He suggested that we can try to measure its photosynthetic intensity at the metabolic level, and if the photosynthetic intensity increases, then the amount of carbon sequestration increases, and the oil content of Phaeodactylum tricornutum may increase.
Meanwhile, in terms of precautions, Prof. Ying Miao focuses on the moral aspect. She believes that all scientific research done by human beings, in different fields and with different goals, has the ultimate goal of a better life for human beings, which certainly includes the protection of the earth. For us researchers who are new to the field of scientific research, we should set up the correct values of scientific research and not take some unethical or even illegal means in order to obtain scientific results that are beneficial to us. And we should also take the opportunity of social practice in the competition to spread scientific ideas to the public, especially since genetic modification, which we are doing now, is a hot topic. For us researchers, we should know how to apply any science and technology without going to extremes; for the public, we should help them establish scientific knowledge about GM and eliminate cognitive misconceptions.

Prof. Chao Zhao
In order to understand the problems of the team project and the actual input, and to improve the form of social practice, we contacted Professor Zhao Chao, who is a professor of Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, a doctoral supervisor , the deputy director of the Ministry of Education Engineering Research Center of Marine Food Processing and Nutrition Health with Fujian-Taiwan Characteristics, a "Jinshan Scholar" outstanding talent, and a university Outstanding Young Research Talent. He is a visiting associate researcher at the Department of
Chemistry, University of California, Davis, USA, and a part-time researcher at the Institute of Chinese Medicine, University of Macau. He is also the director of Microbial Biotechnology Branch of Chinese Society of Agricultural Biotechnology, member of Marine Biological Resources Committee of Chinese Society of Oceanography, member of Youth Committee of Agronomy Branch of Chinese Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, expert of National Key Research and Development Program, correspondence reviewer of National Natural Science Foundation of China, correspondence reviewer of National Science and Technology Research Council of Chile, member of National Standardization Working Group of Tool Enzymes, member of Fujian Microbiology Society. He is a member of the Working Group of National Standardization of Instrumental Enzymes, the Secretary General of Microbiome and Probiotics Committee of Fujian Microbiological Society, the director of Fujian Health Engineering Society, and the Science and Technology Specialists of Fujian Province, and is an expert in algal sugar chemistry and molecular nutrition research. We are very honored to be able to interview him.
After understanding our project, Prof. Chao Zhao suggested us that since we are trying to reduce the cost of biodiesel production, we can not limit our attention to enhancing the oil content of microalgae, which is a nutrient-rich organism, we can try to enhance its content. This point is almost the same as what Mr. Xie Jinjian, the CEO of Shen Liu Group, said. And he said that domestic and foreign research reports on the nutrients of Phaeodactylum tricornutum of Triangle are less compared to Chlorella and Spirulina, so we are advised to try.
After understanding our project, Prof. Chao Zhao suggested us that since we are trying to reduce the cost of biodiesel production, we can not limit our attention to enhancing the oil content of microalgae, which is a nutrient-rich organism, we can try to enhance its content. This point is almost the same as what Mr. Xie Jinjian, the CEO of Shen Liu Group, said. And he said that domestic and foreign research reports on the nutrients of Phaeodactylum tricornutum are less compared to Chlorella and Spirulina, so we are advised to try.
At the same time, based on his own rich experience, Prof. Chao also put forward his own views on the presentation format. He believes that we should properly condense the project, without too much introduction of prospect, detailed explanation of experimental data, specific content of questionnaires, etc., so that others can understand the core content of the project more quickly.

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