The exchange of ideas and resources is an increasing practice among scientists, with networks of research collaborations growing around the globe. The iGEM competition has allowed us to get in touch with many teams globally.

During the course of the iGEM competition we collaborated with two teams. Our main collaboration was with the University of East Anglia located in the UK.

In the image above left to right: Hanya Benotmane, Nancy Teng, Sam Prudence and Braulio Carrillo.

The UEA team were looking for a fast and accurate method of comparing how different surfaces affect the adherence of E.coli versus Shewanella cells. Their project aims to prepare biological systems within Shewanella cells that will store energy harvested from the sun as hydrogen, so finding out which materials suit the growth of Shewanella was crucial. Imaging the cells on different surfaces through atomic force microscopy seemed to be the best method. After a few Skype sessions with UEA we decided to send 10 AFM metal specimen discs and host them for a day to image their pre-prepared samples. Due to time constraints, not all the discs prepared were imaged that day, 4 discs remained and were imaged at a later date by the Kent team.

Here are some examples of images taken on the AFM for UEA. These figures show E.coli and Shewanella on graphite

In return the UEA team kindly agreed to generate model structures for our protein sequences. This was a crucial part of our project as some of the proteins we are working with have been characterised. The protein sequences of each protein were sent to UEA and the proteins were modeled using the Phyre2 software. The UEA team sent the potential 3D models and also the PDB models. Shown Below are some examples of the potential structures of our proteins.

mamT WT

Mam X without membrane anchor


Our second collaboration was with the UC Davis team on the IGEM match website. The UC Davis team has come up with a great idea to help teams with similar projects to connect and collaborate. Teams are able to join their specific track and also see different teams on the same track and select the teams they would most like to collaborate with. However we thought that the website could be further enhanced by creating a search bar to find certain keywords when looking for a collaboration. We sent this and other feedback to The UC Davis team and they gave us the code for the website, which we edited to implement our suggestions

As part of the iGEM community we felt it was crucial to help teams any way we could so we replied to all requests we can, such as filling out surveys made by other teams. We filled out surveys for UCL, XMU-China, Munich United iGEM team, UC Davis team on the iGEM match website, Svce on Lab techniques, the University of Manchester on Alcohol consumption and the Virginia team on biocontainment.

Finally, we also attended the UK iGEM meetup, hosted and organised by Westminster iGEM. Here we presented our project and got to meet various teams from the UK. Not only did we meet our collaborators from UEA at the meet up, we also received and gave constructive feedback to the UK teams’ projects.

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