Considering the implications of synthetic biology tools to the world beyond the lab, It is important to maintain safe and ethical use of engineered organisms.
Even a relatively innocuous chassis such as E. coli can be risky to use if improperly handled. To prevent our engineered microbes from being released into the environment, we followed our host lab’s guidelines for proper disposal of organic waste. To prevent exposure, we wore basic personal protective equipment in the lab at all times. This included appropriate clothing, covered shoes, lab coats, goggles, and disposable gloves.
When choosing bacteria to use in our microbial fuel cell for their special ability to degrade Terephthalic Acid(TPA), a by-product of PET plastic degradation, we were careful to select only BSL1 organisms. For example, we chose not to work with P. aureginosa, a BSL2 organism which can use TPA as a carbon source.
Some techniques involved using chemicals that are hazardous to inhale. When working with such chemicals, we were careful to only work under the fume hood. Flammables were stored in a separate cabinet and disposed of according to strict guidelines.
We transported materials between our lab and the Northeastern team’s lab in sealed containment to prevent release.
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