Before we enter the laboratory, we all received a very standard laboratory safety training. In the lab, we are required to wear gloves and a lab coat to avoid contamination and sharp objects like scalpels when recycling the agarose gel. Every bottle of water and waste products, like excess culture medium, will first be sterilized at high temperature and pressure before using and discarding. Also, every solid waste will be discarded in a special biohazard trash can. Besides, any drinks or food are forbidden to be taken inside the laboratory area and all experiments were conducted under the supervision of our instructors, Prof. Han and Dr. Song.
The laboratory in ATLATL Innovation center is classified as BSL-1 laboratory. Biosafety level 1 (BSL-1) applies to laboratory settings in which personnel work with low-risk microbes poses little to no threat of infection on people. BSL-1 labs also require immediate decontamination after spills. Infection materials are also decontaminated before disposal, generally through the use of an autoclave. BSL-1 labs typically consist of research on benches without the use of special contaminant equipment. They are not required to be isolated from surrounding facilities, and they house activities that require only standard microbial practices.
Our team only uses bacteria E. coli BL21 (DE3) and E. coli DH5α in the experiments, both of which are non-pathogenic. All of the enzymes we use are ensured to be safe, active, and stable, including, EcoRI, NotI, T4 ligase, etc. and stored inside the designated area of the refrigerator. The plasmids, pET28a-IsPETase and pET28a-MHETase are uncontaminated and pose few risks to our health.