During our iGEM Journey we did not only collaborate with many different teams, but also formed strong partnerships with other teams and collaborated with them on multiple occasions over the summer.


At the beginning of June we contacted the team iBowu-China from Beijing with the proposition to form a partnership based on the shared objective: to promote each other's projects in our respective countries and spread knowledge about synthetic biology, as well as iGEM, to the general public. Furthermore, we aided each other in furthering each other’s projects and perspectives.

How did the teams work together throughout the season?

Educational Youtube videos

We started our partnership in June with a translation collaboration, where iBowu china translated the educational videos we, Team Maastricht, posted on our Youtube channel. English is not the native language of the people that we are aiming to educate with our videos. Thanks to the iBOWU-China team if the viewers first language is mandarin the subtitles would help them understand the videos, learn English quicker, if that is their goal, and provide them a better watching experience; as they can dismiss the need to constantly rewind and repeat watching a segment to find out what it said. Team iBowu-China translated episode 1 - 5 of our YouTube ‘Geneducation’ videos on the topics of (1) iGEM and the World of Synthetic Biology, (2) Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells, (3) DNA and chromosomes, (4) Central Dogma, genetic information flow, and (5) Bacterial Transformation. This first collaboration lasted until the end of July. The Chinese subtitles allow people from other cultures to more easily access our educational videos and it also provides clarity of any complicated scientific terminology.

Ximalaya Podcasts

Furthermore, iBowu China invited us, Team Maastricht, to upload podcast sessions about our project and educational episodes about genetics and synthetic biology on their podcast channel, which can be found on Ximalaya. There are also very few fully English narrated podcasts, therefore, our podcasts are an amazing way to diversify Ximalaya users' experience while sharing science that will inspire awe and interest. These podcasts not only made us expand the scope of our thinking as world citizens, but hopefully will also inspire the people listening to discover the fantastic world of synthetic biology. Learn more about our podcasts here.


In August our teams had a panel discussion about the use of Nanoparticles in each other's projects. Team iBowu-China had just finalized their nanoparticle carrier for their magnetic protein crystals, and after reading our project report, realized that our projects are both related to nanoparticle delivery. We set up a discussion zoom meeting soon after to see if it would spark any new ideas. In the meeting, iBowu-China shared some of the information they found during their thorough literature review. Since we, team Maastricht, were not sure whether the use of nanoparticles was the best choice to deliver our siRNA, iBowu-China’s input was greatly appreciated.

From their research, they figured that nanoparticles could potentially play a substantial role in RNA interference therapeutics in the future, and also, in the delivery of RNA based pesticides like the one our team is designing for our project..

They introduced us to the advantages of the use of liposomes; they can protect the siRNA, which is intrinsically vulnerable to degradation. Furthermore since RNA is a polyanion and cannot freely permeate through the plasma membrane the use of liposomes could make cell entry much easier because liposomes are composed of an aqueous core surrounded by a lipid bilayer and are therefore able to fuse with membranes to deliver the siRNA into the cell.

Additionally to learning about the advantages of the use of liposomes and nanoparticles by the iBowu-China team, there was a lively exchange on the challenging requirements of the liposome. On the one hand, the liposome must be extremely stable to protect and secure the RNA on the inside, as the particle must pass through a highly packed and charged environment. On the other hand, the siRNA must be in an active form when it enters the cell. This matter was not of concern for team iBowu-china, but for us it was, which led to hesitation in our team on the use of nanoparticles from the start and team iBowu-China confirmed our concerns.

Overall, considering the many steps required to complete a nanoparticle experiment and the heightening uncertainty regarding when we would be able to enter the lab, we chose to abandon the idea of using a nanoparticle deliverer. We instead decided to directly apply the siRNA expressing E.coli bacteria onto the oak leaves, using the E.coli as carriers themselves. The intense discussion with team iBowu-China confirmed that the use of nanoparticles would not be feasible for our project and without their input our project could have taken a completely different turn.

Video Translation

In September we continued our partnership with another collaboration, in which we translated each other's promotion videos and also recorded audios for each other, in order to create multilingual promotion videos and improve the inclusivity in the iGEM community. This collaboration will enable more people to watch our promotion video. We translated and narrated the German and Dutch script, while team iBowu-China did Mandarin Chinese for us. This resulted in 11 different language narrations and subtitles for our promotional video – English, Chinese, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Latvian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Dutch. The multitude of subtitles and dubbed videos is incredibly important to reach out to as many communities as possible, and engage in each other's work while demonstrating the iGEM Core Value of Cooperation. Moreover, we are planning to also translate each other's presentation video for the online Giant Jamboree, in order to achieve the highest spread of knowledge about our projects in the iGEM community and the general public.

Coloring Book and Muggle Journal

Lastly, at the end of September we started the last collaboration of our partnership. Where team Maastricht designed line sketches about our project and some exciting concept of synthetic biology, for the science-related doodling book aimed at children aged 4-10 created by iBowu-China. The doodling book, as part of the iBowu-Chinas team merchandise, has been published and sold at our fundraiser sale at Shine City on the 11th of October, 2020.

Likewise, team iBowu China also designed drawings for MSP-Maastrichts Muggle Journal children's page. The Muggle Journal is a scientifically simplified version of the iGEM Proceedings Journal created by team MSP, targeted to the general public with less experience reading scientific articles and research. With the Muggle Journal, iGEM research will reach a wider audience and will educate people about science and synthetic biology in a way that makes sense to them.

Our partnership has been crucial to our team's success. It has enriched our public engagement and education work and contributed to promoting diversity and inclusivity within the community. Furthermore, the scientific input on the use of nanoparticles was essential in determining which route our project was going to take in the end. Thank you, TeamiBowu-China! We had a great time working with you all!


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