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Lab Notebook


Our biosafety committee on campus has approved our project and considered possible safety risks to our team members and the environment. It has been determined, that in our stage of research, basic laboratory precautions are sufficient to address our team safety including; wearing gloves, wearing eyeware, using a safety hood, and properly disposing of biowastes. The biobrick components we have made this year pose no known harm to human or animal safety. There is no foreseen failure or mutation in our designed components that could introduce any safety risk. Future work with Synechocystis could involve its introduction into a natural environment, as it is a photosynthetic organism. Synechocystis is present in many healthy marine systems and no component developed at this time would produce a risk if released to the environment. Great care should be taken before introducing engineered Synechocystis into the environment. Our work to develop parts that facilitate protein secretion in E. coli and Synechocystis has had specific protein targets that are safe. We realize that these parts could be used to develop constructs for the secretion of harmful cellular products. Though this is a concern, the positive opportunities that this part make available outweigh the low probability of this work being intentionally manipulated to introduce harm. It is for this reason that they were developed and submitted to the registry.

We feel that performing research that is transparent and open contributes to the safety of the public and to ourselves. Providing opportunities to share our work and introduce others to the growing field of synthetic biology is important to us. The teams participating in iGEM can play an invaluable role in establishing policy regarding human practices and in acting as a liaison between the community of synthetic biology and the public. The multidisciplinary aspect of iGEM is conducive to progress in these two areas. With a concerted effort we can help ensure that synthetic biology continues to progress and reach its potential. In 2009, USU’s iGEM team proposed that the following requirements could be added to the iGEM experience:

  • Additional requirements for medal qualification could require a team to make an effort to have accurately released in a school newspaper or website, an article about synthetic biology and the school’s involvement with iGEM.
  • Encourage iGEM teams to host or give a presentation addressing synthetic biology open to the school and public. The presentation should also be open to accepting questions and addressing concerns.

The 2010 USU iGEM team has accomplished both of these ends. The team was involved in the release of an article to the university and community describing the 2009 experience and introducing the field of synthetic biology. This article can be found at this site.

The Department of Biological Engineering at USU worked together with the USU iGEM team to host a presentation given by Drew Endy open to the university community. His presentation on synthetic biology was recorded and an article released about his visit. He visited USU on January 29, 2010. More information is available at this site.

We will continue to contribute to the growth of synthetic biology and its safe development by organizing and supporting such educational experiences open to the public. We are confident that such efforts will create an open forum for discussing the field's potential and concerns regarding synthetic biology, ultimately contributing to the field's advancement and public safety.

Official Meetings

July 1

Initial meeting to decide direction of project. Two initial ideas discussed, but "CyanoBricks" integration plasmid chosen due to prior progress made, the potential for advancement before iGEM, and the unique platform it provides for iGEM competition.

August 5

Presented iGEM project to the dean of the College of Engineering.

September 9

Team discussion meeting times, progress on parts & composite parts. Shirt design was decided.

September 16

Reviewed judging criteria and reviewed our progress on integration vector and composite constructions. Discussed which tracks would be most applicable to our project. Discussed titles for our project.

September 18

Made final decisions for our intended track, chose a final project title, and gave a final review of our abstract. Discussed our wiki progress.

September 23

Met to discuss progress with constructs, and issues with certain protocols. Revised timeline for remainder of project.

September 27

Team wiki party - upload majority of information, set up placeholders for any pages not yet ready. Discussed logos, ate pizza.

October 26

Final Wiki Meeting - edited and polished formats, proofreading