Team:UIUC Illinois/Safety

Safety | UIUCiGEM


Reducing risks

Biosafety cabinet at Rao lab

Figure 1: Biosafety cabinet at Rao lab


The goal of the project is to increase the efficiency of PETase which is an enzyme that degrades PET bottles like coke bottle. Our engineered organism will be E. coli that will have our PETase plasmid. These engineered e.coli cells will produce mutant versions of our PETase enzymes which we will test in the wet lab for efficiency using mass spec.

Identifying possible risks

  • Organisms
    • We will be using E. coli as our bacteria of choice and the cell lines we will use include DH5 alpha and c41 cells.
  • Potential risks to the community or the environment if they escape the lab
    • Since E. coli is a very common whole organism used in the lab, we do not suspect it will pose a threat to the lab.
  • Organisms are you using as chasses in your project
    • BLD1(D3) of E.coli
  • Safety regarding activities
    • No hazardous materials used
    • Usage of organisms and parts: We will be using e.coli as our bacteria of choice and the cell lines we will use include DH5 alpha and c41 cells. The plasmid of choice we are using is pET21b(+)-Is-PETase . We will transform our cells to get mutant variants of our PET enzymes.
  • Possible risks
    • There is always the chance for antimicrobial resistance but our protocols use very low concentrations of antibiotics.
    • Every waste can be deactivated in our protocols including using bleach and ethanol for any culture media.
    • We work under a PI and are mentored by several of his graduate students who helps us manage the risks.

Managing the risks you have identified

  • Our mentors are responsible for the safety and security of the biology labs.
  • Level 1 biosafety
  • Containment
    • We are using a non-pathogenic strain of E. coli. We will be doing many of our lab protocols in a biosafety room where waste will be collected and safely dumped.
  • Safety training
    • Lab access and rules
    • Differences between biosafety levels
    • Biosafety equipment (such as biosafety cabinets)
    • Good microbial technique (such as lab practices)
    • Disinfection and sterilization
    • Emergency procedures
    • Transport rules
    • Physical biosecurity
    • Chemicals, fire and electrical safety