Revision as of 03:42, 26 October 2010 by Kimf (Talk | contribs)


Project Overview

Genomikon: an Educational Toolkit for the Rapid Assembly of Plasmids

Genetic manipulation using synthetic biology is a technology with unlimited potential. Unfortunately its teaching is currently confined to universities where students have chosen to specialize in science. Recognizing that many of the basic principles and methods are easily explained the University of Alberta sought to expand the accessibility of synthetic biology by creating a teaching package capable of working within a high school environment. This kit exposes young minds to genetic technology before they enter university. To construct the kit known as GENOMIKON we first made it functional by optimizing the biobyte assembly method created by the University of Alberta 2009 team. The experiments of the kit were then designed to be able to be done quickly reliably and with very limited equipment. To make GENOMIKON useful as a classroom resource an interactive lab manual was created to guide students though their experiments. Lastly we looked at how best to bring this kit to the market and into student’s hands. GENOMIKON is a major advancement for synthetic biology because it shows the next generation of students how biology can work as an engineering discipline even before they enter university.

BioByte Theory

The DNA components of the Genomikon kit will be provided in linear pieces named BioBytes. These Bytes have 4 base 5' overhangs on both ends which gives specificity to the bytes that can neighbor it. BioBytes come in two flavors: A bytes and B bytes, which are defined by the composition of the overhangs it has. The result is that A bytes can only be ligated to B bytes and vise versa leading to a construct alternating in A and B bytes. The specificity in absolute order of a construct is given by an anchor which restricts ligation to only one side. File:Team-Alberta-Alberta2010kaTheoryimage.jpg

The Genomikon Kit

The GENOMIKON kit was designed for a high school environment. The major challenge then facing the GENOMIKON kit was that high schools lack lab most equipment traditionally needed for molecular biology experiments. Further creating a sterile environment to avoid contamination was another challenge that had to be overcome. Fortunately the biobyte assembly method does not require centrifuges, thermocyclers or extreme accuracy with regards to volume and temperature. The only equipment a high school must supply then is a hot plate thermometer and a beaker. The issue of sterility is addressed by sending all the parts necessary to be sterile in sterilized packages. The kit sends everything that a high school would need to perform the transformations using synthetic parts.

Genomikon Online

For the GENOMIKON kit to be functional students and teachers need access to a lab manual that can accommodate the many different experiments possible. The GENOMIKON lab manual was designed to act as a teaching resource giving students background information for the experiments they design. GENOMIKON ONLINE was created as the lab manual complementary to the GENOMIKON kit. GENOMIKON ONLINE is found at the website Features include: descriptions of the different parts used to construct a plasmid, a toolkit where student’s can engineer their own creative expressions by dragging and dropping different parts into sequence automatically generating a protocol to follow. Students can also do predetermined experiments outlined and collect background information reading articles. Lastly the teacher can coordinate the class experiments by working through the groups feature.