Team:WashU StLouis/Collaborations

Cardiff Wales

On August 9th, we spoke with the Cardiff team over video chat after corresponding with them through email regarding a new use of our parts. The team proposed using our ribitol induced promoter upstream of a fluorescent protein and transforming it into tobacco plants using agrobacterium. Since our ribitol promoter is a part of a larger operon, we decided to send them the sequence for the promoter. In addition the team decided to assist us on our device by 3D printing a model using STS files we provided them.

The team discussed the application of our device and project with a local agronomist, which contributed to our human practices work and project logistics. They assembled a plasmid with the ribitol promoter upstream of a fluorescent protein for transformation into Nicotiana benthamiana. They found some leaky expression of the protein during their testing.

Our team assisted the Cardiff team by helping them code parts of their wiki. We helped them interpret our code for the navigation bar to fit their pages and wiki design. In addition, some of their pages were adapted after ours.

Collaboration with ICT Mumbai

On July 21st we conducted our first video conference with the ICT Mumbai team after communicating with them through Instagram. The objective of the call was to learn more about each other’s projects and establish a connection to help facilitate easier collaboration in the future. We decided the most effective aspect of the project to collaborate on would be human practices.

Our team compiled a list of questions regarding wheat stem rust and its effects for wheat farmers in India. The ICT Mumbai team was able gather information and ask these questions through their integrated human practices outreach. Their data was extremely helpful for us in increasing the applicability of our device to other regions of the world affected by wheat stem rust fungus.

Our team also assisted the team by testing their BBrickIt! Software and provided feedback on its applicability and interface.

University of Minnesota

On August 9th, we spoke to the University of Minnesota team via video chat to discuss our project summaries. The team was willing to supply our team with S. cerevisiae EBY100 needed in the profiling stage of our project.

Westminster UK

On August 9th, we conducted a video call with the Westminster UK iGEM team to discuss the applications of their project to help us reduce polystyrene waste produced by our project. The team’s project uses chemicals to break down polystyrene down to monomers which are consumed by bacteria. Our device would necessitate multiple discs per day, based on the size of the field, and the conversation inspired us to look into alternatives to polystyrene.

Southern iGEM Video Conference

On July 19th, along side the LASA and UVA teams, we attended the Southern iGEM Video Conference hosted by the Tennessee Knoxville team. Each team gave a 15 minute presentation regarding their project followed up by questions. We were asked questions regarding the expression of the transformed transport protein which we had not previously considered. This encouraged us to double check the translationality of the operon between E. coli 1303 and E. coli DH5α. We posed questions regarding the safety hazards and application of projects dealing with human blood samples and encouraged them to explore an education component regarding the safe usage of their product.

Following the presentations, we participated in a discussion focused on general questions and roadblocks many iGEM teams face. We shared our experience with fundraising and directed newer teams to reach out to personal contacts and local companies working in fields related to their project.

North American Kick-Off Conference

On July 21st, we participated via web conference in the North American Kick-Off Conference mediated by the North American iGEM ambassadors. Prior to a collaboration session, we watched a seminar focused on constructing the wiki from which we gained advice on making the provided iGEM template unique to our team. During the collaboration session, we presented our project and listened to presentations from other teams. An important question posed to our team was regarding how we planned to dispose of our polystyrene discs. As a result of the question, we decided to reach out to other teams working with polystyrene degradation to propose a solution to the waste and contact professionals who work with non degradable waste. One project that made us reconsider our project design was focused on different methods of modelling. It helped us define our roadmap for kinetic modelling and design the direction of our experiment from our modelling efforts. We decided to expand beyond traditional kinetic models to include spore travel and expand the scope of our project data.

iGEM Midwest Meet Up with University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

On August 17th, some of our team members attended the iGEM Midwest Meet Up at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The University of Illinois's iGEM team gave us a tour of their campus, buildings, and lab facilities. Their PI presented about his research in synthetic biology, and we each gave our presentations as well. After our presentations, we recognized that our teams were using very similar plasmids for work in S. cerevisiae. At the time, our team was having issues with our PCR primer design for our plasmid (pRS424), which the University of Illinois's team helped us to fix. We compared protocols and tips, particularly for competent cell transformations, and our team recommended several opportunities for fundraising and discounted supplies. Their team also tried to help us acquire the S. cerevisiae EBY100 strain, but because of material transfer issues and issues growing the strain, was ultimately not able to provide it to us (however, we greatly appreciate the effort!).