iGEM Lund 2021

iGEM Lund 2021



Safety is of utmost importance in an iGEM project and we have had safety on our minds since we started working with project Cure-li. Safety is crucial in the inception of a project, to make sure the project is safe to begin with, but it also has to constantly be kept in mind because there is risk in every project.

Planning Safety

Safety has constantly been at the forefront of our minds working with our project concerning curli. We believe our project is a safe research project to start with, the proteins we introduce to our bacteria have no harmful effects on humans. There are studies suggesting curli is harmful (1,2) but working in the lab there are no routes for the curli to take to enter the people working in the lab. The amount of curli in the lab is likely not dangerous to humans since it would take many bacteria producing a lot of curli to increase the risk to worrying levels. We decided from the beginning to not use any pathogenic Escherichia coli even though they produce curli at a higher rate. In fact we only used biosafety level 1 organisms.

We planned a lab safety day in advance, walking through what to do in case of an emergency, first aid kit usage, activities that include some risks etc. We also read up on standard protocols and general safety procedures. Many people working in the lab also attended a iGEM workshop where we learned much about how to approach the subject, always thinking one step ahead and thinking about what the more dangerous things in our project might be.

Executing Our Project in a Safe Manner

We have had safety in mind at all times and followed iGEMs rules at all times. We followed the lab safety practice according to the instructions compiled by the department’s safety coordinator at our university. We have worn protective clothing like lab coats, glasses, visors and gloves when needed. Visors were worn due to COVID-19 which was continuously kept in mind.

We took the proper precautions to keep the bacteria contained. We have been careful in our waste handling and autoclaved anything. We have extensively worked with sterilization by working with bunsen burners and by sterilising with 70% ethanol.

Due to the corona pandemic we were unable to work at the normal lab benches since it would be too close to other researchers. We instead mostly worked in a large room separate from the other researchers where we were able to be 16 people at a time but still decided on never being more than eight at a time. During the last weeks of the project we were able to work at the normal lab benches but only two people were allowed to work at the lab benches at the same time.


[1] Chen SG( 1 ), Choe K( 1 ), Shivakumar B( 1 ), Son F( 1 ), Stribinskis V( 2 ), Rane MJ( 3 ), et al. Exposure to the Functional Bacterial Amyloid Protein Curli Enhances Alpha-Synuclein Aggregation in Aged Fischer 344 Rats and Caenorhabditis elegans. Scientific Reports [Internet]. [cited 2021 Oct 6];6. Available from:

[2] Miller AL, Pasternak JA, Medeiros NJ, Nicastro LK, Tursi SA, Hansen EG, et al. In vivo synthesis of bacterial amyloid curli contributes to joint inflammation during S. Typhimurium infection. PLoS Pathogens [Internet]. 2020 Jul 9 [cited 2021 Oct 11];16(7):1–22. Available from: