At the beginning of 2020, Dennis and Robin got excited about the iGEM competition and were keen to participate. They asked Filipe Dos Santos if he was interested in supervising an iGEM project and so began the iGEM Amsterdam 2020 Team. A brainstorm session followed. In February, Dennis and Robin had the opportunity to seek members during one of the lectures of the course System Biology in Practice, which took place at the University of Amsterdam. As the name already suggests, it is a practical course where most members of the team got in touch with the Synechocystis PCC6803 bacterial strain. The syllabus and course materials of this course are not freely available online. Around March Samira, Vicky, Mingdong, Joris and Kelly boarded the iGEM train and became members of the iGEM Amsterdam 2020 team.
In the beginning of April, Samira and Dennis started to work fulltime on the project, while the other members worked on it for around 8 hours a week. They had to finish some courses before they were able to work fulltime on the project. Due to the lockdown, starting March 13th, the first few weeks were mostly about the drylab, introduction courses to the project and seeking sponsors. Dennis, Samira and Kelly started working in the lab in the beginning of July. Since COVID-19 rules still applied, they had to work with time shifts. In the last week of September Robin and Joris were still not able to start their wet lab projects since their strains had not arrived yet. Luckily, the supervisors came up with another idea, they started working on a Synechococcus UTEX 2973 lactate producing strain.
As a team we accomplished a lot, but before we dive into this we like to take a moment of gratitude to thank the supervisors. We thank Dr. Filipe Branco dos Santos for his organizing talent, his advice and critical questions. We want to thank Wei Du for his supervision within the wetlab project and his point of view about different strategies for different organisms. A special thank to Max Guillaume for organising lectures about linear programming and Forbidden FRUITS, supervising many wet and dry lab projects and most of all for his patience. A word of gratitude to Wenyang Wu for the supervision in the lab and his humor. We are grateful for the help offered by Joeri Jongbloets, especially for his programming lectures, supervision in the lab, help with structured programming and his accurate/fruity comments and last but not least we thank Hugo Pineda Hernandez for the supervision in the lab and providing us with music when working late in the lab. Due to their assistance we were able to achieve and learn a lot in this short period of time!