Team:Arizona State/HP/Silver

Human Practices: Silver Medal Requirements


Our project primarily focused on the Biosafety concerns surrounding N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs). Because AHL quorum sensing is used by such a wide-range of bacteria, it is very likely that crosstalk between pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria can occur. AHL quorum sensing can cause activation of virulence factors and biofilm formation, which are potentially harmful to humans, plants, and other organisms. We identified this through our literature search, which revealed that there were over 100 unique species of bacteria with their own unique AHL quorum sensing systems.

Biosafety Investigation

To further investigate, we reached out to industry experts at Integrated Device Technologies(IDT), GeneWiz and Twist Biosciences about their view on AHL safety, as well as the opinion of the iGEM Safety Committee. We also met with the Institutional Biosafety Committee at Arizona State University. The details of these conversations can be found on the Human Practices page. After gathering information from these sources, we learned that AHL safety was not a high area of concern, as they do not directly cause increases in pathogenicity. However, under certain circumstances with crosstalk between certain organisms, dangerous interactions can occur. Other safety concerns can be found on our Safety page.

Addressing the Problem

In order to address the lack of specificity in understanding AHL safety, we designed a safe disposal plan involving bleach and/or autoclaving in order to determine which sanitation practices are sufficient to inactivate AHLs. The details of this disposal plan can be found in the Human Practices page, located here. Further integration of Human Practices into the project can be found in the Gold medal Practices page. We also wrote a white paper in which we summarized our findings on the safety of AHLs and gave suggestions on how to approach safety now and in the future.