For this collaboration, we submitted a short video of our team member Carian introducing herself and our team in Dutch in front of the Linnaeusborg building on Zernike Campus, Groningen, where our laboratory is located. The video was part of an international effort to show the wide diversity of nationalities and ethnicities participating in the iGEM Competition. The collaborative video compiled by iGEM Nantes 2021 was played at the beginning of the Opening Weekend Festival 2021.
Video 1: Collaborative video representing the different nationalities and ethnicities participating in the iGEM 2021 competition
Travelling Lab coat
Video 2: Travelling Lab Coat Video with some of the particpating teams: Sorbonne, Nantes, KCL, Leuven, Maastricht, and Groningen
At the end of spring (May 27th), we agreed to join the international initiative of the iGEM Sorbonne 2021 team to participate in their Travelling Lab coat project. The premise is the following - teams from all over the world collaborate by leaving a personalised design on a shared lab coat that is to start and finish its journey in Paris, France. Along the way each team would need to communicate with the two other teams when accepting and sending the lab coat as well as come up with a creative design that best represents their project.
iGEM Dutch Meet-up
The event was organised by the iGEM Wageningen 2021 team on 02.07.2021.
- iGEM Wageningen: designing two mutually-dependent bacteria in a biofilm that would convert CH4 to CO2 and NH3 to N2
- iGEM Eindhoven: designing a bacteria that can detect inflammatory bowel disease
- iGEM Maastricht: designing a GMO that can reduce methane emissions by producing bromoform
- iGEM TU Delft: designing a GMO-based device that can detect vitamin deficiency
- iGEM Leiden: designing a system that can prevent horizontal gene transfer thus reducing the risk of developing antibiotic resistance
The event was a great way to get to know other teams, learn about their projects and their experience with iGEM. There were also two presentations from guest speakers about temporal and spatial patterns in (synthetic) biology and about the dynamics of proteins. Lastly, we had a short Human Practice workshop with team Wageningen where we looked at potential safety/application issues in each other's projects. We learned that it would be wise to look at the safety of our feed-additive for cows, even if we ourself do not expect substantial issues, and to look at how we can make our end-product most appealing to farmers: how can we make sure the farmers trust the safety of our project and actually want to use it?
Figure 1: Screenshot taken during the Online Dutch meetup showing the program of the event
Figure 2: Screenshot taken during the Online Dutch meetup while our team was presenting
Figure 3: Screenshot taken during the Biodiversity Symposium with all the participants
The event was organised by UNSW iGEM 2021 team on 15.07.2021
- iGEM UNSW (Australia): Protecc Coral: find a (biological) way to reduce coral bleaching
- iGEM Stony Brook (USA): finding a (biological) way to breakdown microcystin (which endangers aquatic biodiversity)
- iGEM USYD (Australia): making a biological/natural way to transduce E. coli and therefore allowing more teams to do this in the lab
- iGEM NU Kazakhstan: producing microlipids that can break down oil spills occuring in the Caspian sea
The event was a great way to get to know other teams, talk about biodiversity and get feedback and tips on your own project. We learned that even though we assumed that there are no risks for the animals that use the feed additive, it might still be wise to double check it. Moreover, our project could really benefit from calculating or modeling how much more (financially) efficient our project would be compared to the current solutions for the nitrogen crisis and by how much our project would decrease NH3 that gets deposited in nature.
This collaboration was organised by iGEM Patras 2021 in August 2021. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were introduced in 2015 by the United Nations as a global call to action. These 17 Global Goals were created with the purpose of bettering the world we live in by 2030 - from ending poverty and hunger, through taking action on climate change, working towards gender equality and quality education, all the way to ensuring people live in peace and prosperity.
World leaders and communities have committed to supporting these goals so that we can ensure a better future for ourselves and our planet. As part of iGEM, teams also work on local and global issues and can therefore help in pursuing the SDGs. In collaboration with iGEM Patras 2021, our team filmed a short video explaining which SDGs we are working towards in our project. This video was then incorporated into a collaborative video showing the contribution of iGEM teams around the globe towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
Video 3: Collaborative video of various iGEM teams presenting the Sustainable Development Goals they are working towards
Figure 4: Screenshot taken from the padlet bulletin board of Rosalind Chronicles featuring our instructor Rianne Prins
The main goal of this collaboration was to celebrate women in STEM involved in synthetic biology from all around the globe. As a result of the joint effort of the participating teams, an interactive bulletin board was created with images and information about inspiring women in STEM. Hopefully, this board serves as an inspiration for girls of all ages to pursue their dream careers.
Our team chose to put our supervisor Rianne Prins in the limelight since we see in her a leading example of a woman passionate about synthetic biology. As a former iGEM team member and judge, Rianne has also been doing an incredible job supervising and coaching this year’s Groningen team.
Wiki workshop - Designing and developing from scratch
Our team participated in a Wiki workshop given at the Cyanobacterium symposium organised by the iGEM teams IISER Pune 2021, Stony Brook 2021, HKU 2021, and Toulouse 2021. The workshop was given by a number of experts that significantly contributed to their respective teams winning the Best Wiki awards!
One of the key takeaways from this event was the golden rule of the iGEM Wiki - KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. Moreover, we received some advice on where to get useful tips and tricks on building the Wiki and saw some great examples of well-designed pages.
Figure 5: The program of the second day of the Cyanobacterium Symposium, posted on Instagram by IISER Pune
Sharing educational materials
Figure 6: Screenshot taken during an online meeting between Jan, Sofia and Zahra from our team and Milou from team Delft.
Milou from the iGEM team of Delft 2021 reached out to us with a question - she was wondering what other teams from the Netherlands were doing regarding education. We happily set up a meeting with her to share our ideas and brainstorm about possible collaborations. During the meeting we found out that the Delft team was mainly focusing on having a direct impact on their local community while our team wanted to create education materials related to synthetic biology, both teams were targeting children. Additionally, as our education team is fully international we experienced some difficulties reaching the local community. It seemed like a perfect match! We provided Milou with our materials in Dutch so she could use it during her workshop. This way, we could spread our materials and she had more content to teach what synthetic biology is in her community. Moreover, we had nice feedback from the children in Delf that read our materials.
Figure 7: Picture from the stakeholder meetup simulation we organised with people who were not previously involved in our project
Figure 8: Picture from the meeting between The WUR and Groningen iGEM teams 2021. Here you can see the happy faces of Deli (WUR), Milou (Groningen) and Ritten (Groningen).
Together with the iGEM team of Wageningen University and Research (WUR) 2021 (Cattlelyst) we collaborated on a Human Practices activity. The Cattlelyst team was enthusiastic about the idea and decided to share with us the draft guide on the simulation of an inter-stakeholder meeting. This is a guide to host a roleplay exercise in which people who are not involved in the project get to impersonate a stakeholder group. We tested this guide by organizing a simulation following the suggestions provided by Cattlelyst. We then met to exchange our experiences.
Putting together the efforts of our two teams, Cattlelyst and Bye-Monia, we managed to provide a guide to support other iGEMers in the organization of such an event. Using this simulation, teams can either map out dilemmas, synergies, and conflicts between stakeholders involved in their project or find potential solutions to known dilemmas.
For instance, for the Cattlelyst team, the simulation was useful to identify which dilemmas were more recurring than others. Therefore, it guided them in engaging with the right stakeholder groups in order to address these issues. However, our team tested the guide in a later phase of the iGEM project, so we already knew which dilemmas were associated with the project. This is why we wanted to use the simulation to find possible solutions to dilemmas associated with our project, as were given in handouts we prepared for our participants beforehand. Below the pictures you can find the Powerpoint and the five handouts we prepared and used during the simulation.
We are very grateful to the WUR iGEM team 2021 for allowing us to test their guide and being able to share our experience and feedback with them. They have let us know that thanks to us, the time schedule of the simulation has been improved to make sure to give enough space to the participants for sharing ideas in the large brainstorm. Additionally, examples of our PowerPoint presentation of the lecture and our handouts for the roleplay exercise were added to the guide. All in all, the WUR team has used our suggestions to improve their guide to the final version it is now, which can be found on the contributions page of the wiki of the WUR 2021 team.
Future Farming Webinar
At the end of August, we were invited by the Uppsala iGEM 2021 team to participate in the Future Farming webinar they organized. The two-day event began with short presentations given by 4 iGEM teams - Uppsala, Maastricht, Wageningen, and us, Groningen. The goal of these presentations was to merely get the audience, which was composed of experts and iGEM team members, acquainted with the topics of the iGEM projects.
This was followed by various presentations centered around the topic of sustainable agriculture. We were particularly intrigued by the presentation about intellectual property. The AREA framework which summarizes what we learned from it can be found on the Integrated Human Practices page. The webinar closed with an online networking event on both days.
Figure 9: Poster of the Future Farming Webinar organized by iGEM Uppsala
Exchange of modeling techniques
Figure 10: Picture from the meeting between DTU-biobuilders and Groningen iGEM teams 2021. Here you can see the happy faces of the modeling team of DTU-biobuilders (WUR), Sofia (Groningen) and Ritten (Groningen).
This collaboration with the iGEM DTU Biobuilders entails that our project is employed as a use case for their application which can be utilized for visualisation of Genome Scale Models (GSMs) derived insights. They even provided us with updated GSM models of S. cerevisiae, where the alpha-amylase encoding genes of either A.oryzae, B.amyloliquefaciens, B.licheniformis, or B.subtilis were included in the model, allowing us to test which ammonia concentration would most likely result in optimal growth.
In return, we provided feedback on their TFMatics app. We also used AlphaFold, which has recently been installed on our university’s Hypercluster Peregrine, to predict the structure of various parts of the Membrane-Associated Methane Monooxygenase (pMMO) protein-complex they are using for their project. We mainly looked at how adding different secretion signals and a ytp-tag influence these structures. Have a look at their modeling page to see the results!