Team:Rheda Bielefeld/Marta Event

Team Rheda_Bielefeld at the Marta Museum of Contemporary Arts

On September 16th of this year, Leon and Ben represented our team at the Marta Museum of Contemporary Arts in Herford, Germany. Topic of the exhibition, which took place on this date, was “Creatures made to measure”. Many visitors from all over Germany had been part of a tour over the weekend, and this tour ended in the museum. There were many interesting pieces of art to see. The pieces went from classic sculptures made of marble to very extraordinary short movies and paintings.

As the exhibition was about creating figures of living being, our team, in collaboration with the team of Bielefeld-CeBiTec, had a booth. At the booth, we showed the visitors how to extract DNA from peppers.

The Experiment required some home remedies: mortar and tappet, glasses, peppers, salt, water, dish soap, pineapple juice, a sieve and pure alcohol.
The protocol we used to perform the DNA extraction:
Firstly you crush 2 pieces of pepper together with a tea spoon of salt in a mortar, followed by mixing it with 100 ml of water. Then you leach this mixture with a sieve and pour it into a glass with two tea spoons of dish soap. After waiting 5 to 10 minutes, you pour pineapple juice to the filtrate and stir it. Now you have to tilt the glass a bit so that you hold it diagonally and then you pour the pure alcohol in it. After a couple of minutes you can hopefully see a white fade in the substance.

Since synthetic biology is about solving problems and creating solutions via genetic engineering with organisms and organic material, we wanted to show the people the opportunities and possibilities of genetic engineering. To make the people getting interested in our project, we linked them in into a small experiment. Extracting DNA out of pepper using pineapple juice, salt and straws is quite fun and also possible to repeat at home, so the visitors will remember that synthetic biology is not just a complex field of science only taking part in laboratories, but can also be very simple and even funny. While telling the visitors about our project, we realized that some people unfortunately had a strange image of genetic technologies in their mind, like creating evil diseases or mutated rats for secret government operations by changing and editing the genes of organisms. It seems that this view is mostly based on (bad) science fiction movies. We tried to show them that synthetic biology is not a bad scientific tool, but the key to a brighter future for humanity.


The booth team preparing for the "show"

The booth team showing the visitors how to extract DNA from pepper

(Ex-)spectating a white string showing that extraction has worked