Team:JACOXH China/Partnership





On October 5,2020, the JACOXH-CHINA team held a conference with the Shanghai_SFLS_SPBS Group and the OSA group, via video link, to exchange technology and improve the program. The guests were the core members of three groups. Li Shiyuan chaired the meeting.

First, Chen Tianyu from JACOXH-CHINA Group introduced the background, experimental design and problems of our project to the participants. Then, our instructor, Li Zexuan, added to Chen Tianyu. After listening to their explanation, the attendants raised a lot of questions.

About the experiment

Li Shiyuan first asked us whether the experiment was going on. We said: due to this year’s outbreak, students are not allowed in the lab. In addition, the IGEM organizing committee did not require the experiment. Our part of the experiment was replaced by an experimental design. The search for some gene sequences, including the design of some primers and so on, will be presented as a flow chart. But that doesn’t mean we don’t do experiments. We have now applied for funding for the lab and the project to do this experiment. We’ll try to come up with a full experiment before the game.

Project improvement

Li Shiyuan remembered there was a project on mercury ion treatment last year. So she was curious about our improvements compared to last year.

Our group has looked up the data. There are “similar” projects last year and this year.

The last year’s project, which involved Mercury Ions, made just one test element. Engineered bacteria that change color when they detect mercury ions, but they do not deal with mercury pollution. Our focus is on pollution control. So there’s not a lot of overlap.

This year’s project involving lead ions is a bit like ours. The idea is to get a lead phosphate from a phosphate-solubilizing enzyme to fix the phosphate. But their design is simpler than ours. First, they uses an oxygen regulator. This protein is not expressed in the earthworm body, but only after it is excreted out of the body. This kind of regulation is not very precise. And we used MerR protein is simply the recognition of Mercury Ions, more accurate. Second, we also convert organic mercury into inorganic mercury. In general, our project is more functional.

Ethics and security

Ethics and safety is an important issue in this competition. As a result, one wonders whether our group has considered the issue of “safety” and whether earthworms injected with Bacillus subtilis can be released.

The “security” aspect: This is a real wake-up call. Because inorganic mercury ions alone are fine, but organic mercury can be toxic. We are going to work with a number of professional teams to make the experiment more standardized.

The “security” aspect: This is a real wake-up call. Because inorganic mercury ions alone are fine, but organic mercury can be toxic. We are going to work with a number of professional teams to make the experiment more standardized.

About practicality

Our project may become a commercial product in the future. Liu from the Shanghai_SFLS_SPBS group wanted to know the application scenario and scope of the project and she also wanted to know how to reduce the cost.

The scenario for the project is mercury contaminated land. The users can be farmers and local environmental authorities.

We can save money by making the engineered bacteria sustainable, even if it costs more upfront. If you spray phosphate on a large scale, the sustainability is very low. Phosphate can be carried away by groundwater and even damage the soil. People need to spend a lot of money to solve this problem.

Next, we also heard about the Shanghai_SFLS_SPBS group’s “microbial hair dye synthesis” project and the OSA group’s “using DNA to degrade heavy metals” project. Our team members gave them valuable advice.


In order to better promote the improvement of our earthworm project, on October 7, 2020, we held a conference with ECUST_ China group from East China University of science and technology . The teams of both sides first conducted a presentation and exchange on the project background, experimental design and future prospects of their respective subjects, and then both sides also raised questions about the other party's subject.

About Biosafety:

After the report of earthworm Yakult project, from ECUST_ China team was lucky enough to ask: because the purpose of this project is to degrade the heavy metal mercury in soil through the engineering bacteria in earthworms, will organic mercury threaten the life of earthworms? Our team explained that: the engineering bacteria itself does not have the function of enriching organic mercury. It is organic mercury after entering the cell is cracked and directly combined with atlcd to produce H2S to form HgS, which greatly reduces the toxicity. Earthworms can only enrich Hg in their bodies, which will only improve the survival ability of earthworms, but not the life safety of earthworms.

About team cooperation:

Between the process of our cooperation, in the early stage of work, our team helped ECUST_China in their project publicity, and used social media and offline meetings to help them release the preliminary questionnaire, which received 370 valid answers.

However, in our work, in terms of mathematical modeling, we are confused about how to calculate the efficiency of mercury fixation by engineering bacteria. ECUST_China has given us some guidance, provided us with some ideal modeling ideas and searched the corresponding literature.



8 Tianlin East Road, Shanghai,China