The BeNeLux Mini Jamboree
On the 25th of October, we will organize the annual BeNeLux Mini Jamboree. On this day, iGEM teams from the BeNeLux will visit the Eindhoven University of Technology. Unfortunately, the iGEM team KU Leuven is unable to attend. The attending teams are:
During this meetup, the teams have the opportunity to present their project live to other Dutch teams and online for other interested parties. Further, an interactive poster session will be held where teams may present a poster with their project, however, this is optional as a poster is not one of the deliverables for the iGEM competition this year. The presentations are judged by our jury consisting of experts and others with experience in the iGEM competition. The jury will provide the teams with feedback on their project and select who they think has the best poster. This year the jury will consist of: Matthew Turk (European iGEM ambassador), Petra Hogervorst (Policy advisor at RIVM), and Maarten Lubbers (supervisor of team Leiden). At the end of the day, the teams with the best poster and presentation will receive a prize.
In addition to the iGEM teams, we invited our sponsors to give a small presentation about their company. We are happy to announce that Ekoy, Promega, and CLT will be presenting at the Mini Jamboree in between the project presentations. Eventually, we will conclude the day with drinks and an informal discussion at a café on the TU/e campus. All information and the daily schedule can be found here.
Figure 1: Impression of the previous BeNeLux Mini Jamboree.
Lesson plan Collaboration
After teaching our own chemistry lessons at elementary schools, of which more information can be found on our Communication page, iGEM team Aachen and we thought of how nice it would be to expand the lessons we gave ourselves by including other iGEM teams. Thus, we reached out to other iGEM teams to create their own experiments that could be used to introduce elementary school students to chemistry. We combined our experiments with experiments that were sent in by other iGEM teams in a booklet. The booklet describes in detail the learning objective of the experiments, how to conduct the experiments, and the supplies. With these extensive descriptions, elementary school teachers can use the booklet to prepare and perform one or more lessons themselves. All teams came up with very interesting experiments, which we hope will inspire many elementary schools to teach their children more about chemistry in an interactive way.
We want to thank the following teams for their participation in this project: iGEM team Patras, iGEM team Wageningen UR, iGEM team KU Leuven, iGEM team SUNY Oneonta, iGEM team BOKU Vienna, and iGEM team Unizar. Furthermore, we want to especially thank iGEM team Aachen for making this collaboration possible. More information on the final product of our lesson plan collaboration, can be found on our Communication page.
iGEM BOKU Vienna - Partnership
We partnered with iGEM BOKU Vienna throughout our project on multiple facets of our project, such as lab, modeling, human practices, and the wiki. As iGEM team BOKU Vienna’s project and our project share a lot of similarities it was possible to find shared goals, and troubleshoot each other’s work. A more elaborate explanation of the fields on which we collaborated and in-depth information on our partnership with iGEM BOKU Vienna can be found on our Partnership page.
iGEM Wageningen UR - Labtours and Troubleshooting
Through the second half of our project, we came in contact with iGEM Team Wageningen UR through our supervisor Tom de Greef, who is part of the ‘Living Technology’ workgroup (CLT). Wageningen UR is working on a biofilter that will decrease the emissions of ammonia and methane by cattle. Although we found that there is little overlap between our projects, we did notice some overlap in our lab work and model. Therefore, we decided to visit each other in the lab, so we could take a look at the other team’s setup and discuss this with each other. For both teams it was very interesting to see how the other team handles their lab work. After the lab tours, there was time for a discussion of our projects, and troubleshooting each other’s lab setups. From these discussions, we got some very useful tips that we could implement in the lab. We struggled with getting good results for our gel electrophoresis, so team Wageningen UR advised us to use 0.8% agarose gel instead of 1% agarose gel to get better results during our gel electrophoresis. Team Wageningen UR had some issues with their lab results. Together, we thought about possible explanations, which helped team Wageningen UR further.
In addition to these tours and discussions, we had several online meetings where we discussed problems that we ran into during modeling. For example, when we encountered an error in the model that we couldn’t fix, Wageningen suggested we try to rescale the ODE’s in our model to avoid simulating small numbers. Tips and discussions like this helped us to view our model from a different angle, with the result that we were able to resolve the errors.
Moreover, we participated in each other's collaboration initiatives. We performed one of the Lab Olympics challenges organized by Wageningen UR, of which the end result can be found under participations. Team Wageningen UR contributed to our chemistry lessons for elementary schools. Finally, team Wageningen UR tested our virtual escape room, by trying out our puzzles and providing us with feedback in case a puzzle was too difficult or too easy. More detail on the escape room can be found on the Education page
Figure 1: iGEM team Wageningen UR visiting the Eindhoven University of Technology (left), and iGEM team TU Eindhoven visiting Wageningen University & Research (right)
iGEM Aachen – lab on wheels and troubleshooting
During our project, we cooperate with iGEM Team Aachen on our education initiatives. We discussed our ideas with each other during multiple meetings and gave each other tips and feedback on how to excel in this field. Since we were both thinking about teaching interactive lessons at elementary schools to introduce children to chemistry, we thought it would be a good idea to share our experiments with each other so we would have more material to provide at the schools we went to. We created a shared English presentation to give at schools, which iGEM Aachen translated to German, and we translated to Dutch. We approached two Dutch schools to teach guest lessons, and in addition, iGEM Aachen provided a German school with their lessons.
In addition to the work iGEM team Aachen and we did together in education, we collaborated on the labwork by setting up several meetings and discussing our lab work. The members of team Aachen work on the design of a microchip that can store information through DNA. Even though this project differs very much from our project, it was very interesting to hear their concept and their view on the potential applications of synthetic biology.
In this first meeting with both lab teams, we discussed our lab work in more detail. At the time of this meeting, team Aachen was already working in the lab for over two months. Because of this, they were able to give us advice and tips on how to work in the lab, for instance, the use of Benchling. Benchling also has features for the use of plasmids which can be useful for us. Team Aachen helped us out with how to structure Benchling, and how to make standard protocols. They showed us their organization in Benchling, so we can get some inspiration for our own Benchling organization. The Aachen team consists of 24 members, so proper organization for the lab work is necessary, to make as few mistakes as possible.
During the second meeting, we discussed a few problems we faced, concerning the biobrick compatibility requirement of the iGEM competition. However, team Aachen did not look into biobrick compatibility yet, so we advised them to get in contact with the iGEM ambassadors to discuss biobrick compatibility in their genes. Furthermore, we discussed the delivery time of DNA constructs from IDT and the iGEM distribution kit, containing the 96 wells plate with parts.
Figure 2: iGEM team Aachen meet up
02 July 2021
The iGEM team Wageningen UR organized an online meetup for all Dutch iGEM teams. Matthew Turk, one of the ambassadors for the Dutch iGEM teams, started the meetup as the first guest speaker with a short introduction about himself and being an ambassador. Furthermore, he introduced the second ambassador for the Dutch iGEM teams, Abigail Conner. Thereafter, pitches of the iGEM teams were alternated with guest lectures. It was very interesting to hear the other teams’ fantastic project ideas. We are excited to see their results at the BeNeLux Mini Jamboree and the Giant Jamboree. Dr. Yolanda Schaerli gave the first guest lecture. She started with her experience with iGEM and introduced the projects of UNIL iGEM teams 2020 and 2021. Thereafter, she explained the research in her research group which gave us more insight into the possibilities of synthetic biology. Prof. Dr. Barbara Di Ventura gave the second guest lecture, where she talked about the dynamics of proteins. At last, iGEM team Wageningen UR had prepared a small human practices workshop where each team played the role of a producer and a consumer of the products of each iGEM team. The other teams had some really good questions as consumers of our product that were taken into account in the rest of our project. Altogether, it was a very interesting meetup and we are looking forward to seeing all other teams’ progress.
11 August 2021
On the 11th of August, iGEM team MIT MAHE arranged a meetup for teams who are working on a project focused on the intestines. During this meeting, iGEM team MIT MAHE, iGEM team Thessaly, and iGEM team TU Eindhoven were presented to share their projects with each other and give feedback. It was very interesting to hear what the other teams were doing, and we learned a lot about the possibilities of synthetic biology in regulating probiotics and adjusting intestinal health. In the end, iGEM team MIT MAHE organized a Kahoot quiz which led to a lot of fun!
11 September 2021
iGEM team Manchester organized a codeathon via Discord. Starting at 9 AM UTC to 9 PM UTC, a variety of teams could turn up at a time they found convenient for their respective timezone.
During the day several check-ins took place in the Discord channel, which were set up by the iGEM team Manchester, to keep each team updated on each other's work and to plan for the next couple of hours. If a team wanted help, it could be asked at that time or in the chat during the 3-hour work session. The check-ins, planning, and discussion with other teams help us stay on track with our wiki coding for that day.
At the end of the day - or only a part of the day, as we could only join for around 6 to 7 hours - we received a badge, as can be seen below.
The iGEM team MSP Maastricht continued their iGEM Journal Initiative by collecting research papers of all iGEM teams willing to participate. This journal works exactly like a regular scientific journal, thus all participating teams write a short paper about (a subpart of) their project. The online version of the journal can be found here and below.
The iGEM team Korea HS continued their Quarantine-themed Instagram Project from last year. The objective of this project was to create a sense of community, even through the pandemic, and make it easier for teams to reach out to each other. This was done by means of an Instagram post about our team and a short description of our project. Our post can be found here en below.
For World Microbiome Day, we participated in a social activity of iGEM team Thessaly where they showed a short clip of multiple teams explaining their project, related to the microbiome. Our participation can be seen below.
The iGEM team Warwick has written a 2021 outreach booklet meant to introduce students aged 16-18 to the field of synthetic biology. They asked us to fill in their survey with a short description of our project and how synthetic biology plays a role in it, as well as a short exercise for the students to fulfill. For our exercise, we wanted to challenge students to connect three plasmids in a way that they are all active after another, but only when the receptor made by plasmid 1 senses a specific molecule. For this, the students need to think about what promoters they could use to achieve subsequent activation of the plasmids. The final product of the booklet can be found below.
The iGEM team iBowu-China started the BioDoodle challenge. This challenge aims to give a brief introduction of biological concepts to all readers by drawings. Each participating iGEM team could choose a topic and draw it to their best ability. All drawings can be found in the end product below.
The iGEM team GO Paris-Saclay started the iGEM Monument Challenge. This challenge aims to promote the beautiful city each iGEM team comes from. After being tagged by a team that had already completed the challenge, we were challenged to post a few photos of our city's monuments. Our post can be found here and below.
iGEM team GO Paris-Saclay project is about endometriosis and finding a non-invasive diagnostic for the disease. They wanted to study the knowledge of endometriosis all around the world, in the iGEM community. That’s why they made a survey and reached out to us. Our entire team has filled in the survey.
Over the summer, iGEM team Wageningen UR challenged other teams to show their best lab skills in a few ‘Olympic disciplines’. Every two weeks, they posted a new challenge for other teams to participate in. Results could be sent in through a video, and the winners of each challenge were granted a prize. We took a shot at their second challenge: defreezing an Eppendorf Tube with water as quickly as possible. We had a lot of fun during their challenge, as you can see in the video below! Our final time was 92 seconds.
The iGEM team BOKU Vienna reached out to us and asked to make a low or not FODMAP/ Fructan content recipe since the disease they want to target this year is caused by those food ingredients. We made an Asian low FODMAP recipe because we all love Asian food. It was a delicious meal and we had a great evening with the team. This collaboration lets us think about all the ingredients that those patients cannot eat, but also all the possibilities they still have to make a delicious meal. The final version of the cookbook can be found below!
The iGEM team ASIJ has started a Database Project open to all 2021 iGEM teams to contribute to. Their aim was to gather information about the projects of teams worldwide, to make it easier for current teams to find nearby teams to collaborate with. We have appreciated this by filling out a form, which includes our project description and contact information. The database can be found here.
This year, iGEM team Athens had as goal the in vivo production of dNTPs and DNA polymerase for an in situ one-pot PCR. With this project, they hoped to contribute to the accessibility and decentralization of dNTP production. For this reason, they needed our help. In order to make their product tailored to other needs, they made a brief survey. Our lab team has filled in their survey.
The iGEM team Uppsasla was working on a project within the exciting field of cellular agriculture. They focused on cultivated meat because current methods for its large-scale production need to be optimized in order to compete with traditional agriculture for meat production. Using synthetic biology, this team will attempt to improve the yield of so-called growth factors by optimizing and expressing them in bacteria. To get the public's opinion on their project, they created a survey. Our team has filled in their survey.