Synthetic biology and covalent research generally can provide vastly convenience and usable new techniques to improve our quality of living. Nevertheless, in a larger scale, biological research is also accounted as a sensitive and controversial subject, which needs to be paid more attention in the potential safety threats it may bring to researchers and public. To shoulder our responsibility for development of synthetic biology, Tianjin iGEM team highly valued the safety training, project design and decontamination.

Safety in Lab

Before we started our wet-lab work, we were all required to take Lab Safety Course at our school, which introduced laboratory safety topics, including risk assessment, safety equipment, contingency plans and emergency procedures, disinfection and sterilization, chemical and electrical safety and etc. And after the course, we all took an exam which is a prerequisite for being permitted to enter laboratory in Tianjin University. Also we perused the Laboratory Biosafety Manual of our school, which helps us bore the tips in mind.
In addtion, when we first started to enter laboratory, our professor Yingjin Yuan gave us a safety instruction in which he informed us about how to work in the lab and what was considered as good practice. We then continuously received stint training in service from our team advisor Yuan Ma.

Besides, all of our team members are required and suspected to obey our lab regulations and regular safety precautions, including wearing gloves, goggles and lab coats whenever working in lab, strictly no food or drinks in lab, no chemical and biological substances taken out of lab without permission and appropriate methods, regularly cleaning equipments and benched using ethyl alcohol as a precaution against spread of modified organisms and always maintaining a clean bench and super clean bench to reduce the fluctuation brought by contaminants.


   Student Handbook For Laboratory Safety of Tianjin University

Safety in Project

Our project is on the basis of two nontoxic proteins, PETase and MHETase, whose basic functions are catalyzing the cleavage of ester bonds and decomposing PET[1]. And all of our modified organisms, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae[2], Bacillus subtillis DB104[3], E.coli DE3[4], Pseudomonas putida KT2440[5], Rhodococcus sp. strain RHA1[6], Synechocystis sp. PCC6803[7] are in the Risk Group 1. And there are few hazardous or inimical chemicals involved in our experiment, except that ethylene glycol, DMSO and acetonitrile. The toxic reagents are carefully used fume hood and we have separate waste bottles for all of the byproducts with each reagent, so that the waste could be treated and properly disposed of.

And our project, aiming at degrading PET in a biological way, will not only help to solve plastic pollution problem, but also by using the enzymes will reduce the environment re-pollution introduced by conventional chemical decomposition and landfill, which is rather environmentally friendly.

Public and Environment

The Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Bacillus subtillis DB104, E.coli DE3, Pseudomonas putida KT2440, Rhodococcus sp. strain RHA1, Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 used are not thought to pose any risk to the safety and health of the public as they are all in Risk Group1 and not pathogenic, and they would not be able to compete outside the lab. Even so, we still take rigid precautions in case any laboratorial bacteria would escape into outer environment. All of our waste was autoclaved on site inside laboratory, and all tools and glassware are thoroughly cleaned after each use.

Link to Our Safety Form

Click here to See our safety form


[1] Yoshida S, Hiraga K, Takehana T, et al. A bacterium that degrades and assimilates poly (ethylene terephthalate)[J]. Science, 2016, 351(6278): 1196-1199.






[7] Richardson J H, Barkley W E. Biosafety in microbiological and biomedical laboratories[M]. US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, 1988.

Team Tianjin Sponsor Alltech
Team Tianjin Sponsor GenScript
Team Tianjin Sponsor SynbioTech