Week-1 (Brainstorming)

This was a fresh first week. It’s so cool to have an international team like us. We are so sure to generate many novel and interest ideas. After several brainstorm meeting, 12 innovative project proposals was freshly born. All idea are compared and discussed by their advantages and disadvantages but finally only 2 were selected to be further studied.


This would be a practical project as it develops a common device in our daily life and the idea is quite simple. We plan to insert 2 colour protein genes in to E.coli and those genes are controlled by temperature sensitive sensors. The designed cells can display different colours under various temperatures within 10 to 45. Our idea is based on a related project by UCSF team in 2005 i. With the help of several cold and heat shock sensors that UCSF team has synthesized, we could improve the sensitivity of the sensor and make a more instant thermometer with colour indication.

2.Singing E.coli

It would be super cool if we could hear the sound of E.coli, right? What a crazy idea! But we are going to make impossible happen. The project is based on researches on a kind of special bacteria called magnetotactic bacteria. Those microorganisms are widely existed in condensation of fresh and salty water and play important role in circulation of iron. This specie can move to the North point of magnet since containing a magnetic protein complex called magnetosome ii. This magnetic property is a hot topic in recently years and could be used in many area of industry. However, those magetotactic bacteria are mostly anaerobic and hard to cultivate. We could introduce magnetosome into E.coli and grow those special cells in a tank. With the help of rapid changing magnetic field outside of tank, the magnetosome will bring the E.coli cells to vibrate and the motion could be amplified by electronic speaker. Well, it won’t be a beautiful song but it would be so cool to hear E.coli.

3.Heavy metal detector

Another practical project! This project is also going to use E.coli transformed with magnetosome but for different purpose. Based on the result from a research group in University of Southampton iii, with the magnetic property, the bacteria could attract and remove metal ions like Fe, Mg, Mn, Al and Gd in the environment. It would be an economical, clean and energy-saving method to protect the nature from pollution. Our project will be creating a heavy metal detector by introducing the magnetosome and coloured proteins genes in E.coli. With contact to heavy metal, the bacteria will show various colour indicating the concentration in the waste water.

4.Post-modern painting

Do you want a post-modern painting which changing the pattern all the time on your wall? This project aims to generate a kind of E.coli cells which could display different colour according to different conditions such as temp, pH, oxygen concentration, and electric potentials etc. We will randomly alter the conditions on each small area of the picture time by time. The colour protein genes will be borrowed from last year’s iGEM team from Cambridge iv. If the works goes quite smooth, we could try to control the colours on each spot and create a bacteria plasma screen which could show words or simple pictures.

5.Snow and ice melter

In the country such as Sweden, the first impression of winter is everything covering by snow and every year the government put great efforts to remove snow on the streets and roofs. Moreover, icy ground is also a big trouble for walking and riding in cold winter. It would save a lot of money if the snow and ice could melt quickly and won’t refreeze even under low temperature. The existing melter products are mainly consists of chloride salts which are a pollutant if widely used. So our team want to invent an organic snow and ice melter by synthetic biology. A special kind of bacteria is the main component in the melter which could gain energy from the sunlight efficiently and melt the ice in a short time. After finish its work in one spot, the bacteria will move to on with the melted water.


A bioamplifier could help us to amplify the intensity of some signals that detected. According to the 2007 iGEM team from Cambridge v, a, so called, PoPS amplifier was built to increase the strength of the signalling system. However, we think we could improve the amplifier to be more sensitive and more specific and introduce the various colours indicating gradients of signal intensity. The project could be quite practical and work as a tool for future iGEM teams. A further improvement could be adding a control of the amount of colour intensity increased corresponding to the signal it received. A simple example could be the volume control knob on the stereo.

7.Display device

This project also involves quorum sensing system and the colour proteins mentioned by last year’s iGEM team from Cambridge iv. We will generate several different kinds of E.coli type and cultivate them in array in certain order. So when a specific chemical diffused into each culture, some culture might have no response at all but others might express a coloured protein accordingly. The coloured colonies as a whole will display a given character, such as alphabets or numbers. But if another chemical is involved, it might cause a different expression of proteins in some other colonies, and then a different character will be shown.

8.Bio Timer

Could your timer in the kitchen be a biological based device? This project aims to design a Bio timer using quorum sensing and band detection based on a research group in Princeton University vi. A general idea is to cultivate 12 colonies on a plate, and the timer will be initiated by adding some AHL. After one hour, the first colony will show colour and produce more AHL sending to the next colony. The band detection technique prevents the backward of signal detection. So, the bio timer could show hour by hour difference for half day. It could be improved if time measurement is based on oscillation instead of diffusion of signalling substances vii.