The CLS iGEM team started this year on an uphill struggle. To enter a competition of this magnitude is an impressive feat for any high school, let alone one that is entering for the first time and with minimal help from any Universities. We were told countless times to wait till we go to University to enter, or to spend this year raising funds and to enter next year. However, thanks to the generosity of the School and in particularly to Sarah Fletcher the Head, we raised enough money to enter 4 boys and the PI to Jamboree although every boy has done enough to merit a place. We have completed the vast majority of our lab work without any outside help, and we are thankful to Imperial for lending a helping hand when, and only when, required. We are in the unusual position of being in a boys only team, simply because CLS is a Boy’s School. However the fact that our team is comprised from only one school, unlike many of our competitors, has proved advantageous. We are able to meet up at incredibly short notice and we have gone through the inevitable ups and downs of microbiology as a coherent unit. The smaller number of people in the pool to choose from forced us to look beyond Biology as the primary skillset of useful Team members, and the resulting montage of skillsets in our team has allowed us to reach such heights.
Imperial College London
Imperial have been extremely supportive of our project and helped us several times when we encountered difficulties due to the limited equipment available to us.
- We needed to check our cloning strategies, both when making the new parts for the registry and when thinking about introducing them into a dual-host vector. We checked our thought processes with them at various stages and learned some neat tricks (like using PCR clean up kits for something other than PCR reactions!)
- Obtaining the culture of Synechocystis PCC6803 - when discussing the initial idea for this project they mentioned that one of their labs holds a stock of Synechocystis PCC6803 that they would be happy to share with us. They put it in the post for us and we had it within a few days.
- Providing us with our dual host vector - as parts for cyanobacteria are rather limited in the registry we turned to one of the Imperial labs for help with the vector for this transformation. We were pointed in the direction of Pauli Kallio from the University of Turku, Finland (their collaborator), who gave us permission to use their vector. The Imperial team then promptly provided us with it.
- Blue box for gel examination - given our struggles with our own electrophoresis kit(our dye was not specific enough), the Imperial team lent us their spare BlueBox so that we could start using SybrSafe dye, producing far better results and allowing our project to move forwards.
- Competent cells - as a school we have no access to a freezer where we could keep chemically competent cells, but thankfully the Imperial team very kindly shared theirs as well as their facilities for us to perform transformations. They also taught us about safely transporting microbial plates across town.
- GoCulture Game - we have been testing Imperial team's computer game, both within our team and with younger pupils. We met up with them in order for them to see some students playing the game and for us to give them the feedback that they needed.
University of Turku, Finland
Providing us with our dual host vector, as parts for cyanobacteria are rather limited in the registry. We were pointed in the direction of Pauli Kallio from the University of Turku, Finland (their collaborator), who gave us permission to use their vector.
University College, London
As we don't own a spectrophotometer, we couldn't use the optical density measurements to measure the growth of Synechocystis PCC6803. Instead, we opted for a colorimeter, but the UCL team offered to measure the OD for us, just so that we could calibrate and verify our method.
Dundee Schools Team
As the only other UK team this year, we have discussed our approaches to Public Engagement with them and have spoken to them about the game we were developing for younger students.