At the start of the summer we had a two-week crash course in synthetic biology. Having lectures from a wide range of experts and practicals in the afternoon including electrical engineering, Gibson Assembly and tower construction, we learnt a lot about synthetic biology and engineering. It was also a great way to get to know each other, our supervisors and all the other students that also attended the course.
After a successful crash course in synthetic biology we spent a couple of days days generating as many ideas as we could, and then whittling them down to a final four - Turing Patterns, Bioluminesence, Quiesence and HIV Diagnosis. After a few more days of research we decided to focus on bioluminescence and quiescence, splitting the project into three parts - luciferase optimisation and luciferin recovery, luciferin synthesis, and turning quiescence into biobricks, and presented our ideas to our supervisors.
We went to Newcastle to meet other UK iGEM teams and present our ideas to each other. We had good fun with the team building exercises and listened to some useful lectures.
Now we had a more concrete idea of our project we spent several days gathering as much literature on bioluminescence as we could, and consulted with people with prior experience of working with biouminescence. Dr Summers helped us with our plans on quiescence and discussed IP concerns.
The Wetwork Begins
We began the arduous process of generating enough competent cells to last us for the entire project, and started planning some experiments and DNA synthesis orders. After DNA from James Slock arrived, we transformed it successfully into some HNS mutant strains and obtained glowing bacteria.
A Sneaky Holiday
We went to the Lake District.
The Wetwork Continues
We continued over the summer to construct various BioBricks, which can all be found on our BioBricks page. We used Gibson Assembly to construct a lot of the BioBricks we needed together. We also developed various tools to aid with this process, including Gibthon, the ligation calculator and a tool for converting BioBricks to GenBank format. For more details see the Notebook and these pages.
Thinking Outside the Box
Daisy Ginsberg ran a session for us, helping us to think about what a future lit by bioluminescence might look like - a very useful human practices exercise!
A French TV crew from the channel ARTE came and filmed us in the lab for use in a documentary they were making, and also filmed us discussing some of the human practices side of iGEM and synthetic biology.
After finding Gibson Assembly so useful over the summer, to promote it and fulfill our longing to make a Cambridge iGEM band, we wrote and recorded a song about Gibson Assembly to the tune of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Deep Blue Something. We had a lot of fun and the number of hits on the youtube video are slowly increasing. You can find the video here!