Revision as of 20:51, 25 October 2010 by Glh (Talk | contribs)

Risk Assessment

Unlike some other nematodes, Caenorhabditis elegans is fully free-living and functions primarily as a digester of detritus, posing no threat except to those organisms (mostly bacteria) which it eats. Accordingly, concerns about researcher, public, and environmental safety are minimal. C. elegans can be safely cultured in a BSL-1 laboratory1. Since the worms are non-pathogenic organisms, and Biosafety level 1 practices are simple and safe, working with C. elegans carries a very low level of risk.

The engineered C. elegans do not effect their environments, as our work focuses on proteins with intracellular effects that have no significant catalytic role. Thus, a malfunction in our BioBrick parts would pose minimal threat to humans, laboratory equipment, or other organisms. Further, our alterations do not grant the worms any advantages over the wildtype, making the spread of these alleles unlikely, should engineered worms be released into the environment.

In principle, our work does contain some risks in that it aims to make more advanced forms of synthetic biology more readily accessible, as well as providing a chassis that could potentially be used to create more dangerous projects such as catalytic mechanisms. However, by itself, our project poses no threat to its environment.

Footnotes and Citations

1: Biosafety Guidelines and Levels of Containment. Canadian Council on Animal Care. Accessed on 2010-06-22.