Forbidden FRUITS


In the lab the biggest risks lie within the misuse of equipment or chemicals. To guarantee lab safety we have adhered to all the national and European laboratory safety guidelines, which are already enforced in the laboratory of the Molecular Microbial Physiology group at the University of Amsterdam (MMP-UvA). All members of the team received safety training to work safely in the lab. As biomedical/life science students we had already received safety training when going into the lab for practical courses; but in addition to this, during the first day at the lab we were provided with a guide that contained all the “Rules for working at Microbiology and Molecular Biology” stated by the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences. Additionally, the guidelines ensure the containment of all strains used or developed in the lab and include the work with Genetically Modified Organisms, for which we are licensed via our host group (MMP-UvA). The organisms used (E. coli, Synechocystis and Synechococcus) are all classified S1 organisms - the lowest risk group and all genetically engineered materials were properly autoclaved.

Rules (pdf)

Likewise, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have followed the recommendations of the Dutch government to ensure everyone's safety and health. We made sure that the amount of people in the lab would allow keeping a 1.5m distance at all times by setting up a reservation system with schedules. This also allowed us to make sure to know who had been working in the lab in a specific time slot in case we’d have had to trace a COVID-19 case.


We are engineering multiple microbial production systems to sustainably produce industrially important compounds. We have worked on an algorithm that can design strategies to produce non-native compounds in a variety of microorganisms. To show that our new algorithm can make predictions independent on the strain and product chosen, we propose to test genetic engineering strategies for three non-native compounds (lactate, mannitol and salicylic acid) in Synechocystis PCC6803. Additionally, we propose to test the genetic strategies for the production of salicylic acid in Escherichia Coli K-12 and the production of lactate in Synechococcus UTEX 2973.

Risk Assesment

We have made sure that our project is safe by design by choosing to use non-pathogenic strains and low-toxic compounds. The organisms used (E. coli, Synechocystis and Synechococcus) are all classified S1 organisms - the lowest risk group. We have also considered that created compound-producing microbial strains could potentially compete with natural species, allowing them to become invasive and harmful to the environment. The latter is, however, highly unlikely, as the growth kinetics of microorganisms producing a compound will always tend to be lower than the growth of the native microorganism. Taking all of this into consideration, we have adhered to all the national and European laboratory safety guidelines

Survey - Personal Data

Within our project we aimed to explore the opinions of the public about the use of compounds produced by genetically modified organisms in their daily-life products and their willingness to use these products. For this purpose we set up a survey for which we had to take into consideration the storage and security of personal data which we did by setting up a data management plan. With the support and help from Dr. Brett Olivier we were able to build a data management plan using the template provided by the VU. In addition, we received a formal confirmation from the VU that the survey complied to the ethical guidelines from the VU.

Data management plan (pdf)

Ethical review (pdf)

Forbidden FRUITS

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