Dr. Gentry-Weeks is a biosafety officer at our university and takes necessary steps to ensure we follow proper lab safety. By running a 3 day safety and lab course at the start of the summer Dr. Gentry Weeks taught our iGEM team about lab safety and various techniques. All team members have received BSL1/BSL2 biosafety training. Proper techniques used involve proper usage of PPE (eye protection, gloves, lab coats, close-toed shoes, long pants), aseptic technique, and standard biosafety practices. We also use a buddy system to ensure no one is working alone in the lab. Our mentor professors are also available whenever experiments in the lab are being done to ensure proper techniques are followed and safety is ensured. We are using Cavicide to decontaminate the bench tops before and after work and all biowaste is autoclaved.
Organisms Used in our Project
E. Coli DH5-alpha
Quorum sensing genes of Staphylococcus aureus (obtained from iGEM)
Staphylococcus aureus DAR31 (aka Btn1260)
Staphylococcus aureus ATCC25923
Staphylococcus aureus hosts: MA-81, ATCC33594, ATCC25923, ATCC29663, CDC19188, 1061, 1066, Chia
Risks of Using these Organisms
The E. coli strain that we are using is in the risk group 1 and cannot survive in the human digestive tract. This organism therefore poses little risk. The Staphylococcus aureus strains are opportunistic pathogens and can cause disease in humans as well as wild and domestic animals including cows. In humans the Staphylococcus aureus strains can cause a wide variety of infections including skin infections, bacteremia, septicemia, toxic shock syndrome, endocarditis, peritonitis, necrotizing pneumonia, meningitis, osteomyelitis, septic arthritis, scalded skin syndrome, and infections of bones, joints and organs. The toxin can cause food poisoning. In animals the Staphylococcus aureus strains can cause wound infections, bacteremia, septicemia, and other diseases
Risks of our Experiment
The bacteria could somehow escape the lab if proper lab procedure are not followed, however, we are using good laboratory practices to prevent this from happening. Although we do not anticipate generating aerosols, if there are any types of experiments where aerosols may be created, we will conduct these in a class II biosafety cabinet.
Managing These Risks
We will be using nonpathogenic strains for our cloning experiments. We will also be decontaminating all biowaste in an autoclave. Proper lab procedure will be followed and PPE will be worn at all times. We will also be using a buddy system throughout the year to make sure that in the case of an emergency a second person will be available to make sure help can be attained. All persons are aware of the process for contacting the advisors in case of possible exposure to S. aureus.
To read more about the risks involved with our project, and the safety procedures we follow, check out our full safety form.