The focus of iGEM is progress in research and the improvement of Biobricks to standardize biological parts for an easier application. To reach this ambitious goal and receive medals in the iGEM competition, teams must work together and establish solidarity and cooperation instead of rivality. The following text is an overview of our collaborations.
We asked team Bielefeld to help us with our first steps in iGEM. During our meeting they gave us a detailed instruction for the Gibson- and Biobrick-Assembly and many useful information about Sponsoring. Without their help we had not gained such a good impression and we decided to finally sign up for iGEM. Read more!
Another important Team we cooperated with, was team Aachen. Like us they are working on a project with an optogenetic focus. We built a lightbox for the light-controlled induction of optogenetically controlled proteins for Team Aachen. We already had a blueprint from our own lightbox therefore we were able to build an improved version which perfectly fits the requirements Aachen poses. So the box was ready to use for their testing phase. Read more!
We also received help from team Tübingen, as they sent us four yeast shuttle vectors. The vectors were not available from the iGEM HQ, but required for our project. We are thankful that we did not have to produce them ourselves, which enabled us to build and use our yeast constructs instantly. Read more!
OPTOPTOSIS also coordinated a Collaboration between eight german iGEM teams! For our postcard campaign we contacted all german iGEM teams and asked them to join us and create postcards showing and describing relevant topics of synthetic biology. They contain short descriptions so everyone can understand what synthetic biology is about. Most teams gave us a positive feedback and joined immediately. After finishing the cards, we sent them to each other and distributed all cards on any events we organized like e.g. the NRW-Day. Read more!
We had an awesome time and met other teams at the iGEM meet-up in Paris and Marburg
We have also been part of the newsletter of Xiamen University
Our first steps to iGEM
Made possible with the help from Bielefeld
The first time we heard about the iGEM competition was when team SpaceMoss from Copenhagen visited us at the Heinrich-Heine-University in Düsseldorf, presenting their project and iGEM to us.
From this moment on, we were infected by the idea to create the first iGEM team at our university. In October 2015, some students decided to arrange a first meeting. At this meeting 60 students came together to discuss and talk about iGEM and how we could establish a team in Düsseldorf. It quickly became clear that we had a lot of questions which we were unable to answer ourselves, so we decided to ask team Bielefeld for help.
Soon, we had a meeting with them in their hometown. As it is the seventh time that Bielefeld is participant in the iGEM competition, they have a lot of expert knowledge.
They welcomed us with an iGEM cake and we spent a really interesting and nice afternoon together. During our meeting they gave us a detailed instruction for the Gibson- and Biobrick-Assembly and much information about Sponsoring. Thanks to team Bielefeld we had a good overview and lots of necessary information which we would have never found out without their help.
After all, we looked forward to manage our project and decided to sign up for iGEM.
We first met team Aachen in Marburg, where they presented their project about proteases, that can be activated via light. Proteases in laundry detergents are usually suppressed by boronic acid to avoid early activity. With Aachen’s light inducible proteases, boronic acid, which is harmful for the environment, could be avoided.
To test the optogenetic constructs Aachen was in need of a light box.
Since every team lacks time we offered our help in building a light box for Aachen. Since we had to build one for our Team as well, we could already collect some experience in the construction, to produce an even better result for Aachen.
The box contains a high-power LED emitting UV-light, which is adjustable in height and intensity. This allows the modelling of the protein-construct.
Back in April, after receiving the designation kit from the iGEM HQ, we found out that we would need a couple of plasmids which have not been available at the iGEM HQ. So we contacted the Tübinger iGEM members from 2015 for a collaboration after exploring that they had what we needed.
This collaboration was about giving us 5 different yeast shuttle-vectors (pTum100, pTum104, pRS314, pRS315, pRS316), which were either used or produced by iGEM Tübingen 2015. We used these plasmids to test our construct consisting of the blue light switch and the red light switch in yeast.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to test our whole construct in yeast cells, but a part of the red lightswitch
Without these plasmids we would have had to produce the shuttle vectors ourselves, but luckily they still had glycerol stocks from last year and were so kind to share these with us.
European experience in Paris
On July the 2nd to July the 3rd 2016 we attended the European Experience iGEM meetup in Paris. Together with 29 other teams we listened to lectures of iGEM founder Randy Rettberg and other renowned scientists.
Randy Rettberg’s lecture was especially inspiring. He told us why iGEM was founded in the first place and what vision he had for the future. Every attending iGEM team had their own information stand and the opportunity to explain their projects to all other teams.
We learned new lab techniques and discussed problems and solutions of our and their projects. This was very helpful for making connections to other teams working in similar fields of synthetic biology as we do.
This initiated collaborations with other teams using optogenetics. We also got to know Victor Plet from iGEM-Team Ionis, who visited us for a few days in Germany too.
Our team had a lot of fun at parties and activities organized by the iGEM Teams from Paris.
The first big iGEM meetup took place in Marburg on the fifth till seventh of august. All German and a Danish team were represented.
We arrived on early Friday afternoon at the campsite in Marburg where we stayed over the weekend. We were welcomed warmly by the local iGEM team and built up our tent while enjoying the marvelous weather. Naturally we brought a typical hospitality gift for a Düsseldorf team – top-fermented dark beer.
After being divided into colourful smaller groups we had to corporately master some tasks in the city, including drinking a “rusty nail” - a typical shot of the city and a hot tip for anyone visiting Marburg.
On Saturday, the projects were presented after a great breakfast and the teams could get to know the projects after getting to know each other the day before. After the presentations a grand bubble soccer tournament was held – the only competitive event on a very cooperative weekend. After a tasty barbecue we went to the city again to party the whole night.
It was a very nice weekend! Getting to know all the teams and their projects, socializing and making friends is a really great part of the iGEM experience.
Many thanks to the iGEM team Marburg for superbly organizing the weekend and for making it possible to get to know everyone!
Additionally we had a collaboration with the Xiamen-University in China. They asked us to write a text about our project and team, so they can publish it in a newspaper article. We were happy to participate in this international newsletter informing about different iGEM Teams from all around the world.