Collaboration plays a very important role in the iGEM competition. We have not only gained knowledge through the experience of the other teams, but we have also exchanged ideas with each other to successfully realize the projects of each team.

Despite all the challenges due to the pandemic, we connected with different teams through online contact and, this way, got to know each other. There were many programs and activities that were done this year and that helped us all to work on the problems, difficulties, and challenges during the project.

In addition, this joint work of the various teams formed a scientific network and offered useful suggestions for the development of future projects and scientific work.

The following page gives you an overview of all the activities that we have carried out this year.

Lab Gallery

To collaborate, we must be aware of spatial and cultural barriers. However, in our globalized world, it was possible to carry out coordinated international work directly from Germany to Chile. This was possible due to the warmth and internationality that our team had this year. The collaborative work with Felipe Lobos, a regional artist, gave us an opportunity to enjoy our work in other areas never thought of before. Although some team members did not speak the same universal language, utilizing the minuscule translation of a language we were able to eliminate the language barrier and even further we implemented non-conventional communication methods such as scientific communication and its forms.

After hard work, we managed to set up a virtual gallery and tell our neighboring iGEM teams around the world. They encouraged us to continue with this beautiful project and even wanted to be part of it, sending their artistic approaches that would tell about their project. Mutual collaboration and the exchange of ideas are something that defines iGEM teams and pushes them to be a better version of themselves.

We were supported by the following teams that sent us a short description of their project and a picture of their exhibit:

iGEM Kaiserslautern

Proteins that occur naturally in the human body require special effort to be successfully replicated in transgenic organisms. Among other things, this is due to the fact that proteins undergo a variety of molecular modifications, which differ from organism to organism.

Our vision is to establish an efficient and elegant method to produce medically relevant proteins. The Modular Cloning System is the genetic engineering method we use to design the proteins, and Leishmania is the organism in which we ultimately produce them.

The Modular Cloning system is a biotechnological application that can be used to assemble entire gene constructs from mutually compatible DNA building blocks in just a few steps.

Leishmania tarentolae is our organism of choice, because compared to other eukaryotic organisms it is easily cultivable but also provides advantages of eukaryotic expression systems like special human-like protein modifications. This will allow the production of therapeutic proteins that are more similar to natural human proteins.

iGEM Bonn

The iGEM Team Bonn works on a genetic engineering project which aims to replace current processes in the rare-earth element metallurgy industry. New sustainable technologies can be implemented in this industry to reduce environmental impact.

The team proposes the use of the recently discovered bacterial protein lanmodulin (LanM) as a more environmentally friendly, efficient, and hopefully more economical alternative to present extraction methods. In the labs, LanM is being applied for selective binding and extraction of lanthanides from ores. The project covers extraction matrices already described (coal, electronic waste) to include ores that are important in terms of resource policy.

The process developed by the iGEM Team Bonn will encompass the entire extraction cycle including reuse of the protein and prepare for large-scale applicability.

iGEM Ohio State University

A bacterial infection can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening condition which causes widespread inflammation that can lead to organ damage. Sepsis is caused by the immune system overreacting to molecules on the surface of bacterial cell walls. One of these molecules is lipid A, which is produced by gram-negative bacteria.

The iGEM Team of the Ohio State University designs a phage to produce an enzyme eliminating lipid A in those bacteria. A phage is a virus, which only infects bacteria and, therefore, does no damage to the human cells. The virus invades the bacterium by injecting its own DNA. Since the virus is genetically modified, the DNA inside the phage codes for a specific enzyme - an enzyme that inhibits the synthesis of lipid A on the bacterial surface.

As a result, the risk for sepsis decreases.

iGEM Wageningen

Globally, our planet suffers from a large excess of reactive nitrogen. In the Netherlands specifically, fifty percent of total nitrogen emissions originate from the intensive cattle industry. Nitrogen forms, e.g. ammonia, have been accumulating over time, impacting local ecosystems. As a response, drastic political measures were taken which polarized the Dutch population. Besides ammonia, cattle naturally emit the potent greenhouse gas methane. Responding to both threats, the team is developing “Cattlelyst”, an innovative biofilter for cattle stalls that removes methane and ammonia.
“Cattlelyst” relies upon a synthetic co-culture of two non-pathogenic bacterial species that grow and convert these harmful gasses, without accumulating intermediates such as nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas. The engineered bacteria will be contained within the biofilter by means of a multi-layered safety mechanism. Thanks to these features, our biofilter provides a biological, animal friendly and biosecure solution to reduce the ecological footprint of our current food system.

iGEM Nantes

This exponat is about the green tides that are washing up on the Brittany coasts and around the world.

Green tides are the events when green algae are stranded on beaches. This phenomenon started occurring in the 1970s and since then has been raising problems at the coasts where it appears. These problems include for example the production of toxic hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which is harming other organisms, and hindering boats to put out to sea.

Reason for the appearance of green tides is eutrophication, which means that waters are enriched with nutrients causing excessive growth of organisms like algae, especially the ones from the genus Ulva.
[1] V. Smetacek, A. Zingone, Nature 2013, 504, 84–88.


This year was governed by a great collaboration within the iGEM teams. This can be seen in the intensive workshop that took place in Greece and was hosted by iGEM Thrace. Due to the Erasmus + Programm, seven iGEM teams from all over the world met in the city of Alexandroupolis to learn about science communication.

This space gave us the chance to unite these teams, to the point where there were not seven groups, but a united group of people from all around the world. In this way, we were able to help each other and work on the main project that was the final goal of the workshop; a performance that informs with non-conventional communication about climate change, vaccines, and synthetic biology.

Furthermore, we were able to have an intense cultural exchange, where the teams and their members were able to show us a little more about the culture of nine countries, each iGEM team was not limited to the country of origin. The diversity of nationalities allowed us to do nights of cultural exchange with typical food and drinks.

The participating teams were:

iGEM Thrace

iGEM Hamburg

iGEM Aachen

iGEM Marburg


iGEM Sorbonne

iGEM Crete.

Düsseldorf Postcard Exchange

This part was organized by the iGEM team Düsseldorf. Every team had to design its special postcard that summarized the essentials of its research or synthetic biology in general.

After that, we and the other teams sent the postcards to the iGEM team Düsseldorf which collected the postcards from all teams and exchanged them between the teams. This gave everyone an overview about the projects for this year. We got a lot and several postcards from many teams with amazing designs granting a first idea of the projects for this year and supporting synthetic biology.


iGEM Nantes organised a collaborational video in which members of many different iGEM teams introduced themselves. This video can be used when introducing iGEM to people who do not know it yet because it shows the diversity of the iGEM competition.


Team Marburg was working on cell free thylakoids. Our plan was to send them our constructs to test the functionality of their cell free systems and our fusion proteins. Because we were not able to prove that our constructs were working we did not send them to team Marburg.

Additionally team Marburg planned to send us lyophilized thylakoids that we would have used to prove the reproducibility of the result. Due to problems with the reliability of their sample preparation we did not receive frozen thylakoids from them.

© iGEM Hamburg 2021