Team:NKU CHINA/Human Practices


Human Practice

Don’t aim for success if you really want it, just stick to what you love and belive in, and it will come naturelly.

As a worldwide event, iGEM is not only a competition for us, but also a chance to influence and even to change this world. NKU_CHINA has been working hard to practice the topic that the society impacts experiments and experiments that affect society. At the beginning of choosing the project, we hoped to benefit more ordinary people and to make some contribution to the community through synthetic biology. Therefore, we searched for the projects which had strong applications. With several discussions with the professors in our college, we finally chose Screening Strains with high glutamic acid concentration intracellular by intelligent metabolic pathways as our major concern. In order to make our project not only be restricted to our own, we carried out a series of activities around education and propaganda, team communication, market research, Communication improvement, and transformation of results.

We mainly performed and enhanced our project from the following aspects:

Silver HP


Science Popularization Lotus Festival

On June 24th, 2018, the Lotus Festival, a campus open day was held in Nankai University, our iGEM team participated in this event and successfully propagandized knowledge about synthetic biology as well as iGEM, let a lot of high school students and their parents for the first time knew about our competition and synthetic biology. We built a bridge between iGEM and the public.

Investigation and Propaganda in Western China

To investigate the education and the popularization of biological science in western China, we went to Yinchuan, Ningxia from August 1st to August 7th, 2018. We went to Minning Middle School to teach students some funny knowledge about synthetic biology. Through the research, we found that people in the western China knew little about biological knowledge, and we need to increase publicity and popular science.

Synthetic Biology Propaganda in Tianjin No.13 Middle School

After meticulous preparation, three iGEM teams came from Nankai University, Tianjin University and Tianjin University of Science and Technology went to Tianjin No.13 Middle School to publicize the knowledge of synthetic biology and iGEM, meanwhile, to understand the current situation of education about biology in middle schools.” While these students have only been exposed to biology for a year, they like it very much”, the teacher said.

Biological Science Popularization Day in Nankai University

In order to show the charm and essence of iGEM, and at the same time to better promote iGEM and synthetic biology among college students so that more people can focus on synthetic biology and participate in iGEM, we have organized the science popularization report on July 7th, team NKU-CHINA, Jilin_China and TUST_China took part in the publicity. Each team introduced their respective experiment directions and preliminary work with the synthetic biology as a common theme. After the report, outside the venue, the teams also answered the audience’s questions one by one in front of their own exhibition boards, expanding the public's understanding of synthetic biology, iGEM competition and experiment projects. Finally, the iGEM team of Nankai University organized a visit to the iGEM lab to get more closer with iGEM and our experiments. Through our publicity, many students showed great interest in synthetic biology, which is a meaningful publicity.

Team Communication

The iGEM University Joint Conference in Nankai University

On July 6th, we held the iGEM University Joint Conference in Nankai University. This event aimed to promote communication and cooperation between various universities teams, and at the same time carry out science popularization to show the charm and essence of iGEM. This was the first time that our school iGEM team successfully conceived and held this large-scale joint conference. Each team introduced their experiments and other aspects of the work. After the show, we discussed our experiments and look for teams that can cooperate according to our needs, the exchange atmosphere was warm and reflected a good collision of thoughts. Finally, we organized everyone to visit our iGEM Lab to get a better understanding about our experiments.


When we visited Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology, we happened to meet Team NPU-China. We discussed our experiment and Human Practice and put forward some suggestions about their project. At the same time, we told them that we had some problems in Tet A gene expression recently. Fortunately, they suggested that we should communicate with team XJTU-China because our projects were very similar. Through their suggestions, we successfully communicated with team XJTU-China and improved our experiments. What a wonderful experience!


The 5th CCiC Conference was held in Shanghai University of Science and Technology from August 27 to 31. More than 60 teams from China participated in the Conference. The conference is divided into two parts: presentation and posters. Teammates of NKU_CHINA listened carefully to each team's statement and learned their advantages and our wonderful show was so Brilliant that many teams communicated with us. In the evening, all the teams are showing their unique design posters. However, our poster attracted a large group of people to seek cooperation. Thanks to our excellent presentation and poster display, we won the best Poster Award, which was a great encouragement for us. After the meeting, we exchanged views and ended our travel to CCiC meeting with a group photo.


When attending the CCiC conference, we met OUC-China fortunately and cooperated with them in public education and science popularization.
OUC-China team provided a science brochure about synthetic biology we used when we promoted synthetic biology in Tianjin’s Middle Schools. The popularization of science was as important as the innovation of science and technology. It was the wings of innovation and development. We took synthetic biology as the foothold of science popularization and participated in the popularization of science together, which greatly improved the depth and breadth of science popularization and strengthened the inheritance of synthetic biology. This is an innovative cooperation.

Science Popularization Lotus Festival

For further collaboration in this and next year , our six universities in Beijing and Tianjin (BNU NKU THU TJU TUST UCAS) had this meet-up together in China institute of biophysics on September 16, In this conference we talked about our experiental plans and HP cooperations in the future. At last we all agree that there should be more relationship among us , we can find more oppotunities in spreading synthetic biology knowledge to senior and junior high schools and use others experimental facilities in next year's experimental part.

Integrated and Gold

Market Research

The experimental project we were doing was the intelligent metabolic approach-Population Quality Control system. When we determined the experimental project, we did a lot of market researches through online and offline.

Material Price Application Problems
Surfactin $240/10mg
  1. Hemolysis
  2. Antibacterial, anti-mycoplasma chlamydia, anti-virus
  3. Inhibition of tumor cell proliferation
  4. One of the ideal alternatives to potential antibiotics
  5. Promote efficient separation of oil and water and repair of crude oil contaminated soil
  1. Products are obtained by constructing highly productive mutant strains and recombinant strains in the laboratory
  2. It produces a lot of foam when it is fermented, which makes the fermentation abnormal or even failed
γ-PGA $435/kg
  1. An ideal environmentally friendly material that can be rapidly degraded in nature
  2. Excellent drug carrier material
  3. Food thickener
  4. Doing flocculant for adsorbing heavy metal ions, which can effectively reduce pollution
  5. An important ingredient in cosmetics
  1. Its current production cannot meet the needs of society
  2. The yield can be increased by screening and mutagenizing high-yield strains, particularly glutamate-independent synthetic bacteria
Glutamic acid $20-30/kg Glutamic acid is the world's largest producer of amino acids and can be used in industrial production, food processing, medicine, scientific research, etc. As an important intermediate metabolite in cells, glutamate can be converted into surfactin and γ-PGA by its own metabolism

Analysis of our research results, we found that the current production technology of glutamate was so mature that the price was very cheap. Novozymes and other biotech companies chose to produce polymers to form new materials that ultimately increased their added value. At the same time, glutamate was also a very important substance in cells. What’s more, the use of surfactants was very extensive. As a reason of the current production technology could not form large-scale industrial production, no wonder that the price was high; γ-PGA could be industrialized, but the current production cost is very high, resulting in its price was also very high.

Based on our findings, we finally chose to use intracellular glutamate to synthesize surfactin and γ-PGA to verify the feasibility of our project.

Questionnaire Analysis

In the analysis process,we tried to find the relationship between the two questions "Do you understand the use of surfactin and gamma-polyglutamic acid?" and "Do you think that the intelligent metabolic pathway we are studying meets the needs of current production and research?". Therefore, we performed the cross-over analysis. The analysis results show that the majority of people who understand the use of both products believe that our intelligent metabolic pathways meet current needs, but need to be improved; while people who do not understand our products have listened to our explanations and believe that this intelligent metabolic pathway is in line with current needs very significantly,which also reflected that our publicity is very effective.

The Result of the Investigation

  • Do you think our method can meet the needs of current development and production?
  • 22.55%: Very consistent, optimistic about the results
  • 66.63%: Yes, but need constant improvement
  • 7.84%: Does not fit well, need innovative design
  • 0.98%: No consistent, new experimental routes need to be designed

The Result of the Investigation

  • Do you konw about the production and application of these two kinds of things?
  • 46.08%: Do not know much about it
  • 28.43%: Knowing little about it
  • 21.57%: Knowing
  • 3.92%: Knowing it well

We compared the answers of the same questions pre- and post- presentation. In fact, More people have realized that our intelligent metabolic approach is feasible, at least in terms of ideas that are very consistent with current needs.
In addition, many people expressed concerns about biosafety and the use of antibiotic, which will be showed in the pages of Human Practice and Safety.

The Result of the Investigation

  • What's your attitude towards the use of antibiotics?
  • 47.06%: Expressing concern because antibiotics are overused at present
  • 39.22%: It is necessary to use reasonably under normal supervision
  • 12.75%: Expressing optimism and it can be used normally
  • 0.98%: Must stop using it as it may produce super bacteria

The questionnaire is issued in Chinese statistics, for the convenience of reading, all of them are translated into English.

Communication Improvement

Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology

In order to improve the experimental techniques and ideas, we went to Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology to exchange and study on August 21th, 2018. First of all, we communicated with our teachers about the background of our experimental project, the innovation of intelligent metabolic pathway, the effect of tetracycline and so on, and listened carefully to the suggestions given by them.

Here are the inspirations and suggestions we got from the exchange:

Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology
—Focus on experimental design and operation
  1. How to reflect an effective feedback mechanism?
  2. How to reflect the innovation point and function line of the project?
  3. What is the relationship between glutamate concentration and cell survival?
  4. Changes in product yield after project completion.

Then we followed the staff to understand the development of the Institute, related research projects, fermentation production and scientific research status, the operation of synthetic biological instruments. Through this communication, we better improved our project ideas and experimental techniques.

Tianjin International Joint Academy Biomedicine

In order to better understand the prospects and significance of the project, we went to Tianjin International Joint Academy Biomedicine for exchange and study. We communicated with the teachers in the field of medicine and production, we discussed the influencing factors in scientific research and production, fermentation, the current production of surfactin and poly-γ-glutamate and so on. The teachers put forward many valuable questions to us and provided a lot of helps in the transformation of the project results.

Here are the inspirations and suggestions we got from the exchange:

Tianjin International Joint Academy Biomedicine
—Focus on the significance and prospects of the project
  1. Stability of the plasmid.
  2. Is there any other influencing factor other than glutamic acid?
  3. What are the advantages of our experiment? What breakthroughs are there compared to existing research methods?
  4. Is the combination of scientific research and actual production?

We also visited the fermentation workshop to understand the specific production process. Finally, we introduced our project to them, this new intelligent metabolic pathway in production and research to give them a lot of thoughts and inspiration to the current research and production.

Transformation of Results

The Novozymes Company

On September 27th, we went to the Novozymes to improve our experiments and transform our results into fermentation production. We were eager to contribute to society by applying our project to actual fermentation production. We introduced our projects to many professors and producers, and had an exchange composed of experimental prospects, project achievements, experimental problems and the potential to conduct fermentation. They put forward a lot of suggestions, which are very important for us to improve the experiments.

Here are the inspirations and suggestions we got from the exchange:

The Novozymes Company
—Transformation of results
  1. The intelligent metabolic approach we are studying is very meaningful and the product we chose to validate that our route could work were also very marketable.
  2. The production technologies of amino acids are very mature, so their prices are very cheap. Novozymes and other biotechnology companies choose to produce polymers to form new materials that ultimately increase their added value.
  3. Did our project focus on this new intelligent metabolic line or industrial production of γ-PGA?
  4. We could first transform at the genetic level and then combine our model to filter out the excellent strains which can better improve the yield of products and solve many products and solve many problems in fermentation.
  5. How to achieve high density production and save costs?

Furthermore, they showed great interest in our project. After our efforts, they were finally willing to make an attempt to transform our experimental research into fermentation production. We visited the fermentation workshop to discuss the specific details of the fermentation production and the precautions as long as we finished exchange.

Unbelievable, they actually agreed with our request. We went farther than we can do. What’s a wonderful experience! Our project took a big step forward, which greatly inspired our fighting spirit. While our competition was about to end, we would also explore the subsequent fermentation production together, and our project would never stop!

Long live our project!