Team:Jiangnan China/Communication



Today, coral reefs cover an area of 284,300 square kilometres. They provide more than $100 billion worth of goods and resource services to humans each year and generate an annual net economic benefit of about $10 billion for the global tourism industry. However, tourists always use plenty of high-powered sunscreens to protect themselves from the intense UV rays when visiting coral reefs. Visitors may not know that even low concentrations of chemical sunscreens - not to mention high concentrations - are enough to cause a range of coral diseases and bleaching in the sea. In addition, most marine life cannot survive in the tropical waters known as the blue deserts, which lack nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. The coral reef is like an oasis in the desert, providing shelter for many marine organisms. However, the coral bleaching crisis will lead to many fish and marine extinctions, further leading to the collapse of marine ecosystems.

In Education, we made a textbook and a brochure based on different ages of audience and conducted diversified science education activities, including lectures and experiments. In Science Communication, we had in-depth communication with cosmetics companies and environmental NGOs, government staff, and coral researchers based on the project's needs and participated in the synthetic biology theme meetup of COP15.

In this regard, We are committed to popularizing the relationship between coral bleaching and sunscreen use to the public through synthetic biology, and explore a fundamental solution to the harm caused by chemical sunscreen based on established legal procedures and market sales. We hope to make our best contribution to the realization of cosmetics' environmental protection and environmental safety.

1. Science Videos & Articles

With the progress and development of our times, more and more people tend to go on vacation at the seaside while also paying more attention to skincare and anti-aging. However, the public is poorly informed about the environmental damage caused by existing sunscreens and the link between sunscreens and coral bleaching, leading to irreversible damage to the environment while using sunscreen to protect their skin. Therefore, it is urgent to carry out simple science popularization for the public.

As we know, WeChat and Bilibili are all popular apps in modern times. Therefore, we first set up the official account "Jiangnan iGEM" on WeChat (Fig.1), and regularly posted introductions related to the project and exciting articles on synthetic biology science popularization. Posting with simple words and exquisite illustrations, we hoped to help more people understand this field.

In addition, we also created an account "Jiangnan iGEM" on Bilibili and released a project presentation video with the theme "Save Coral Reefs at Risks." Now the clicks are still rising, and the number of followers is considerable. We are confident and determined to carry out the science popularization to the end.

Fig.1 Science Articles & Videos

2. Lab Open Day

When promoting popular science, we found that the strategy of "having a definite object in view" is essential. Therefore, we first positioned the audience as primary and middle school students.

On May 15, 2021, the school of Biological Engineering of Jiangnan University held a public Science Day activity themed "From Life Science to Biological Manufacturing," which involved more than 100 students and parents from primary and secondary schools in Wuxi who signed up through open channels. The content of this activity included popular science lectures (Fig.2), model building, exciting experiments (Fig.3), etc. Our iGEM team also participated in the activity. Considering that the student participants are young, we chose to hold a science lecture titled "DNA, the magic code in our body" and explained the role of DNA in our body simply and understandably. In the course of the lecture, we asked the children to build their own DNA models to help them better understand the structure of DNA. After the lecture, we accompanied the visiting children and their parents into the laboratory. We also jointly completed some interesting experimental projects, such as micro drawing plate bacteria, microscope observation, and bottle blowing balloons, enabling the children to observe the morphology of microorganisms and understand the use of the optical microscope.

After this activity, we found that primary and secondary school students know little about biological science knowledge, but they have a strong awareness of environmental protection anyway. Primary and middle school students are at their best age to develop an interest in science. We believe that educating them about synthetic biology will improve their environmental awareness and thinking skills to a great extent. We also believe that many of them may gain inspiration from this experience and use their wisdom to solve and manage environmental problems in the future.

Fig.2 Science Lecture

Fig.3 Experiments

Video.1 One Of The Experiments

3. Lectures

In China's education system, most students begin to receive systematic biology curriculum education at the middle school stage, further divided into two parts: junior middle school stage and senior high school stage.

Biology is a compulsory course in junior middle school as part of mandatory nine-year education, which covers the basic knowledge of cells, animals, plants, and ecosystems, enabling junior middle school students to understand fundamental biology. Then in high school, biology is an elective course, which introduces some in-depth knowledge of bio macromolecule, genetics, genetic engineering, and so on based on what the students have learned in middle school. High school students will choose whether to learn biology based on their future career planning. Since synthetic biology course is only offered at the university level, knowledge related to ocean and coral reefs is rarely mentioned in middle school or high school. We believe that middle and high school students are the main force to promote the popularization of science and make more people understand and engage in synthetic biology research. Therefore, we then targeted our audience at middle and high school students.

Since this group has relatively completed cognitive reading and thinking discrimination and has a specific basis for learning biology, we made a simple popular science textbook. This brochure mainly introduces coral reefs and the bleaching phenomenon, providing some treatment methods to solve coral reef bleaching, and finally extending to synthetic biology. We hope that students can have a preliminary understanding of this field and appreciate its importance from the application and prospect of synthetic biology.

After communicating with Ms. Huang from Zhenjiang No.1 High School of Jiangsu Province, we visited the campus to present synthetic biology and our project to the students in class. (Fig.4)

Later in the free talk section, the students were very active and asked us many questions about synthetic biology, including the need to use the experimental apparatus, how to carry out the practical operation, and the trend of the future development direction of synthetic biology. These questions cereals showed their interest in this subject.

As we had limited communication time, we gave each student an elaborate textbook and a brochure. We hoped that our presentation and teaching material would supplement the shortage of high school biology knowledge in the education system and inspire more middle school students' interest in synthetic biology. It would also provide continuous fresh blood for synthetic biology and promote this subject's development.

Fig.4 Lectures For High School Students

4. Brochure

Then we expanded our audience to the public. Through the portable brochure, we have popularized the importance of coral and the increasingly severe coral bleaching crisis to the public. At the same time, we have called on the public to pay attention to the marine coral issues, live a green life, "protect coral, protect the ocean, protect nature," and work together to develop marine environmental protection and environmental safety.

Science Communication
1. Communication with Non-Government Organizations

When advancing the project, we got in touch with some NGOs and established good cooperative relations.

· Friends of Nature

Founded in 1993, Friends of Nature is one of the earliest environmental protection organizations in China. Currently, there are more than 30,000 volunteers nationwide and more than 3,000 monthly donors. Over the past 28 years, through environmental education, ecological community, public participation, legal action, and policy advocacy, Friends of Nature has used a series of innovative approaches and mobilization methods to rebuild the connection between man and nature, protect the precious ecological environment, and promote the emergence and growth of more and more green citizens.

After learning about this organization on the Internet, we contacted Ms. Sun, who is in charge of this organization in Wuxi, to express our hope to work with Friends of Nature to explore the relevant content of environmentally friendly sunscreen and popularize the knowledge pertinent to the public. In response, Friends of Nature recognized our project and enthusiastically responded to our request, saying that they would like to work with us to extend the road of science popularization further. On this basis, we planned a community popularization activity together. With the community as the core, we popularized coral marine and biological knowledge with vivid lectures and fun games to improve the public awareness of environmental protection and better green living standards.

· Better Blue

Founded on June 1, 2017, Better Blue is one of China's most influential marine conservation organizations. By empowering the diver community and establishing a diver marine protection network, Better Blue enables more divers to become marine protection activists and participate in marine citizen science, marine public education, and endangered species and habitat protection projects, to some extent inspiring more people to learn to interact with the ocean in a scientific and friendly way.

We learned about this organization on WeChat and participated in the "Ocean Youth Growth Plan" activity promoted by this organization. After contacting Aria Yu, the organization's current head, she expressed her willingness to cooperate. In the communication process, we learned that not long ago, they collaborated with Guangxi University to carry out a coral reef survey, which is only conducted once a year. We guessed that divers participating in the survey must have their unique feelings about coral conservation, and we were lucky to have a conversation with Miss. Su (Fig.5), one of the first coral reef protection participants, through the help of the moderator.

Miss. Su became a diver in 2011. She has participated in coral reef survey projects for many years and has rich experience in coral reef protection. Miss. Su told us this vital information: On February 5 of 2021, more than 500 corals distributed in China became second-class animals under state protection. Therefore, when people saw the news that someone got punished for destroying corals, they gradually began to protect the coral reefs and pay attention to the marine environment. The change conveys the importance of coral protection, and at the same time, shows that our science communication work has a large audience. When talking about our team's projects, Su, a coral and ocean protection advocate, also provided us with suggestions for public education based on her own experience. She suggested that our team help people realize the significance of coral reefs rather than simply launching coral-friendly products to improve the marine environment, which is more acceptable for consumers.

Fig.5 Communication With Miss Su

Regarding promoting environmentally friendly sunscreens, Su also believes that it is necessary to use educational means to implant interest and impressions of the environmentally friendly ingredients from everyone's concepts. As a result, it will be easier to promote coral-friendly sunscreens, keeping them for a long time. What's more, as the public's understanding of coral reef issues gradually deepens, people will naturally pay attention to the sunscreen they choose. Otherwise, the awareness could fade away quickly if we only mention it from the product point of view.

Through this dialogue, we had a deeper understanding of the status quo of coral reefs and the public's awareness of coral protection, and we will carry out science popularization activities more effectively according to Ms. Su's suggestions.

In addition, we also assist Better Blue with "Clean up the ocean and protect the Coral Sea" public welfare donation activity (Fig.6). We hope that more citizens will get involved in China's coral reef conservation efforts and raise public awareness to protect corals.

Fig.6 "Clean Up The Ocean And Protect The Coral Sea" Public Welfare Donation Activity

2. Communication with Cosmetics Companies

According to the theme of our project, "Using Saccharomyces cerevisiae to produce environment-friendly sunscreen," we further explored the sales market of the cosmetics industry and had friendly communication with relevant people.

· Hu Peng, the sales manager of Longhui Company

Guangzhou Longhui Trading Co., Ltd. is a cosmetics raw material supplier focusing on researching, developing, and selling unique cosmetics raw materials. To understand the potential application of synthetic biology in the cosmetics industry and explore the current development trend and demand of the cosmetics market, we learned about the current situation of the cosmetics industry and the needs of customers from Hu Peng, the sales manager of Longhui Company. (Fig.7)

He told us that people increasingly favor natural biological sources when choosing cosmetic products. For enterprises, they should pay more attention to the scarcity of raw materials and build a green, healthy brand image. During the interview, he showed us some common cosmetic types, such as spray, gel, etc. It is worth noting that sunscreens belong to a particular category of cosmetics, which are stricter than ordinary cosmetics in the legal filing. In addition, we also discussed the matters that needed attention in the selection of raw materials for different cosmetics companies. Hu Peng thinks it is necessary to set up a negative list to eliminate some cosmetic raw materials harmful to the environment. Finally, he put forward a unique opinion on the future of the cosmetics industry, thinking that the cosmetics industry will become more formalized and standardized, and enterprises will pay more and more attention to their unique brand building.

After this dialogue, we have a deeper understanding of the needs of the current cosmetics market, which inspires the direction of our project and provides help for the follow-up analysis of cosmetics laws and regulations.

Fig.7 Communication With Manager. Hu

· Wu Guanhua, regional sales manager of Lubrizol Management (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. Guangzhou Branch

To unveil the secret of environmental-friendly raw materials in the cosmetics industry, we went to Lubrizol Management (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. Guangzhou Branch to communicate with their regional sales manager Wu Guanhua. (Fig.8) We learned more about the promotion and use of these materials and cosmetics companies' attitudes towards relevant regulations.

During the communication, he introduced some methods of selecting green raw materials implemented at present, including the evaluation of RCI, the backtracking of raw material sources, and so on. At the same time, he also said that the cosmetics industry had already adopted some products produced by synthetic biology, and they will consciously mark the characteristics of natural sources when they publicize to their customers. Unfortunately, due to the differences in publicity methods, they rarely directly promote and introduce their products' natural and green features to the public. What's more, he expressed his opinion on the current regulations of cosmetics. He believed that the increasingly strict rules were conducive to the final formalization of the industry. However, the enterprises may still face the problems of rising testing costs, becoming difficult to declare, etc.

This interview greatly inspired us. We realized that the public might not know enough about natural green cosmetics. What's more, we found that there are still some loopholes in the current application of synthetic biology in cosmetics at the regulatory level, which also provides directional help for our followup analysis of cosmetics regulations.

Fig.8 Communication With Manager. Wu

3. Communication with Government Sectors

Based on communication with sales managers of the two cosmetics companies above, we intend to understand the current legal quality inspection process further. Therefore, we contacted the Market Supervision Administration and the Food and Drug Administration.

· Mr. Wang, the Financial Market Supervisory Authority from Market Supervision Administration

To clearly understand the requirements of laws and regulations on the production of new cosmetics raw materials and sunscreen, we came to the Market Supervision Administration, responsible for supervising the production and circulation of cosmetics and communicated with Mr. Wang, the person in charge. (Fig.9)

He told us that the Financial Market Supervisory Authority is mainly responsible for the daily supervision of the circulation and operation of cosmetics. Given the Department's primary responsibilities, we first asked whether the environmental hazards of cosmetics are one aspect of the daily supervision of cosmetics by the state. We know that ,the Financial Market Supervisory Authority's daily management is mainly based on the cosmetics supervision and administration regulations implemented on January 1, 2021, which does not mention the appropriate supervision on the environmental hazards of cosmetics ingredients. In addition, the ecological impacts of new cosmetic raw materials will not get assessed when they are registered.

Mr. Wang said that there would be no particular distinction between ordinary chemical raw materials and natural raw materials in daily supervision for a new biological raw material. The regulatory authorities will require operating enterprises and medical institutions to collect and report the "cosmetic adverse reaction test report" every year. At the end of the interview, he suggested that we go to Food and Drug Administration for further understanding.

Fig.9 Communication With Mr. Wang

· Ms. Liu, head of the cosmetics management department of the Food and Drug Administration

According to the information obtained in the previous interview, the team members came to Food and Drug Administration for investigation. (Fig.10)

Ms. Liu, head of the cosmetics management department, said that their job responsibility is to carry out daily supervision on the production and processing of cosmetics. According to her, the registration of all new cosmetics raw materials should be tested under the provisions of the measures for the administration of cosmetics registration and filing issued on January 12, 2021. At the same time, she also mentioned that the drug administration at the provincial and municipal levels has no management authority, and the national drug administration must handle the registration of new raw materials. For the specific supporting materials to be submitted during registration, we can refer to the provisions on the administration of registration and filing materials of new cosmetics raw materials. We also learned that from May 1, 2021, the cosmetics registration and filing information service platform had opened exceptional cosmetics registration management modules and new raw materials registration and filing management, which can now be registered and filed through this online platform.

After having a detailed understanding of our project, she reminded us to pay attention to the safety requirements in the technical safety specifications for cosmetics (2015 version) while producing this new sunscreen raw material. She also noted that since our experiment will involve the scope of synthetic biology, we should consult the measures for the safety management of genetic engineering promulgated by the State Science and Technology Commission, which contains relevant content on the safety evaluation, application, and approval of gene engineering experiments.

Finally, we also asked Ms. Liu about the environmental hazards of cosmetics. She said that China's Financial Market Supervisory Authority has no detailed requirements for this at present, but the state's supervision on this is the responsibility of the Environmental Protection Agency. After the interview, we also found relevant laws and regulations on the official website of the Environmental Protection Agency thanks to the reminder of Ms. Liu, namely the environmental management measures for new chemical substances, which apply to the new chemical substances as cosmetics raw materials. It details the declaration procedures, registration management, safety classification standards, tracking control, legal liability and other contents of new chemical substances, etc.

Through communication with relevant professionals, we have a clearer understanding of the cosmetics industry's current market, audience consumption, and legal regulations, which can also help us better implement the details of the project and reap better benefits when promoting products.

Fig.10 Communication With Ms. Liu

4. Communication with Coral Reefs Researchers

· Prof. Liu of South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, CAS

During our cooperation with Better Blue, we actively paid attention to its official account of Better Blue and participated in the lectures held by the organization. Moreover, we communicated with Prof. Liu Sheng as well.

Prof. Liu Sheng has been working for the South China Sea Institute of Oceanography, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, mainly researching coral conservation and restoration. During the online lecture, we learned about the status of coral reefs in China, experienced the difficulty of life on the sea in the story of Prof. Liu's unexpected encounter with starfish, and discussed the methods to protect coral reefs together. (Fig.11)

According to Prof. Liu, artificial restoration has become matured, and extensive experiments have been carried out extensive practice in our country's Nansha Islands sea area. Despite that, it is still difficult to get financial support due to the inability of artificial coral repair to bring benefits from enterprises. It is challenging to support large-scale coral restoration only relying on funds from government departments and researchers. This activity has benefited us a lot, as Prof. Liu's professional knowledge has further guided the promotion of our project.

Fig.11 Communication With Prof. Liu

· Associated Prof. Liang & MSc. Qin of Coral Reef Research Centre of China & School of Marine Science, GXU

Thanks to the introduction of our Partnership team GXU-China, we got in touch with Professor Jiayuan Liang from the School of Marine Science of Guangxi University and China Coral Reef Research Center to discuss our bio-sunscreen project with his team.

Professor Liang Jiayuan has been researching coral- xanthobacteria symbiosis and coral pollutants for a long time. We were lucky to have had a deeper communication with him and his graduate student Qin Liangyun on the impact of sunscreens on coral reefs. Professor Liang told us that the separation of xanthobacteria is quite tricky, and the symbiotic relationship between coral and xanthobacteria has not been very thoroughly studied.

Therefore, in terms of solve coral bleaching, he believes that our project is feasible and realistic. But Professor Liang also pointed out that although gadusol exists in fish eggs and coral reef fish groups, it is a trace existence. Before adding gadusol to sunscreen as a major component, we must consider whether gadusol enrichment will negatively affect corals and related organisms.

Based on that, MSc. Qin introduced how to conduct the enrichment experiment in the laboratory and some methods used to analyze the result. Finally, our team decided to cooperate with them in the future to figure out the impact of a high concentration of gadusol on coral in the China coral reef research center to carry out some experimental validation further.

5. Communication with Attendees Of COP15

The fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) is a global conference convened by the United Nations on the theme of ecological civilization. This COP15 held a first-stage meeting in Kunming, China, October 11-15, 2021. On October 14th, a series of COP15 Youth Biodiversity Scientific Exploration activities: a special session on synthetic biology was held in the form of an online meeting, with a webcast at the same time.

Jiangnan_China participated in the youth project exhibition as an iGEM team, shared our project to the participants, and exchanged and discussed with many academic teams, gaining a lot of sincere opinions (Fig.12). Due to the wide audience of this conference, we were even encouraged by scholars engaged in the field of biological art. The experience of participating in COP15 makes us realize the great significance and value of synthetic biology in promoting the construction of ecological civilization, and we believe that biodiversity conservation will make great progress in our younger generation.

Fig.12 Communication With Attendees Of COP15