Team:Nanjing NFLS/Human Practices

Human Practices

April 15th | survey on “synthetic biology and Microbial Fuel Cells”

We conducted a survey on “synthetic biology and Microbial Fuel Cells”, and receive 438 usable data during five days. Here are what we found: - most people heard the concept of synthetic biology, but not very professional - most people accept gene engineering products with no modified genes contain in the products - medical and treatment, environment and energy, are still top applications people are receptive to. (same us our last year survey) - most people don’t know about how MFCs function, while they acquaint the concept mostly in social media - people concern about the application and safety of engineered MFCs - most people consider new energy and waste water treatment as urgent problems to be solved (See Our Questionnaire)

·Did you know anything about synthetic biology before this survey?

21% Never heard of it at all
52.97% Know but do not understand
23.52% Approximate understanding
2.51% Very professional

·How comfortable you are with the way synthetic biology is used?

15.98% Don’t use any products derived from genetic engineering
69.41% Use products brought about by genetic engineering, but the modified genes will not leave the laboratory
14.61% Use all products resulting from genetic engineering, including modified genes

·In which areas of synthetic biology are you receptive to?

74.89% Pharmaceutical
75.34% Medical
47.95% Agriculture
68.04% Environmental governance
68.26% Energy development
41.1% Basic Research
0.23% Other

·Did you know what a microbial fuel cell was before this survey?

19.86% I'm sorry, I had no idea.
74.43% Know it's a power-producing device, but don't know how it works
5.71% Know that it is a power generation device and is familiar with how it works

·What do you personally think are the current drawbacks of microbial fuel cells?

44.75% Low power output due to low electricity production
70.09% High cost and low productivity
56.16% Large variation between batteries, difficult to harmonize standards and regulation
41.78% Compared to conventional batteries, they are larger and less portable
35.16% Risk of leakage of strains from the device
1.14% Other

·What are your views on the current consumption of traditional energy sources such as oil, coal and natural gas?

15.07% It's not that bad. I think it will last a long time at least.
83.56% Rapid consumption and the need to develop new renewable energy sources as soon as possible.
1.37% I don't care, since it doesn't affect me anyway

·What do you think about the current pollution problems caused by traditional energy sources?

3.2% Not serious, can be ignored
51.14% More serious, but pollution is within limits, so new energy is not a priority.
45.66%Very serious, need to develop clean renewable biofuels as soon as possible

April 11th to May 30th | ethic courses and interview with Prof. Zhao Ling

We considered ethical as the highest priority, so we interviewed Prof. Zhao Ling from School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (NUAA). Having discussed with Prof. Zhao, we better understand how to deal with potential risks and side effects lying under synthetic biology with bioethics principles. We learned bio ethics rules (like NOT RELEASE) by taking Prof. Zhao’s engineering ethics online course. Her course leads us to think about the legitimacy of engineering behavior and the ethical choice of engineers in specific engineering practice, especially in biology perspective. From April 11th to May 30th, we learned the basic concepts and theories of engineering ethics, risks, safety and responsibilities in engineering, and the value choices faced by people in engineering practice, as well as the professional ethics of engineers.

(View more in Ethic Course and Our Interview)

Since May 4th | consult to Prof. Yong Xiaoyu, at Bioenergy Research Institute in Nanjing University of Technology

We interviewed Prof. Yong about the specific gene involved in electricity generation in EABs. He agreed with our idea of overexpression genes, and also provided us several applicable EABs like (such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Shewanella oneidensis, etc.), and complex phenazine biosynthetic pathway in P. aeruginosa, the importance of NAD(H/+) pool in electricity producing, and gene regulations in endogenous biosurfactant in different bacteria. Accordingly we narrow down to three genes phzM, nadE, and rhlA, thanks to the Prof. Yong’s advices. Prof. Yong became our PI later and provided us with continuous guidance and inspirations. We also got the idea of combining Bio-Electro-Fenton (BEF) system with a novel Fe-Mn/graphite felt composite cathode to purifying the solution, as another aspect of improving MFCs.

Aug 1st | Beijing International iGEMer Collaboration Seminar(online)

We attended Beijing International iGEMer Collaboration Seminar(online) on Aug. 1stwith 10 other high school and undergrad teams from Beijing and Nanjing. Each team presented their own projects and exchanged ideas. The meetup also invited many experts: Prof. WeiWei from Nanjing University, gave us feedback on our presentation skills; Prof. Li Jiabao, ambassador of After iGEM 2020, clarified the criteria and troubleshot the competition rules. Most importantly, we got the inspiration of kill switch, from team Tsinghua, whose project “NO mediated Biofilm Allayer(NBA)” also intended to use light switch to ensure safety, dealing with P. aeruginosa biofilm. We also gave advise to KEYSTONE’s “B.B.Bin” project, and later they invited us to cooperate with their syn-bio education game, “The Adventure of Bob Lelogy”. (view more in QHFZ-China )

Aug. 21st | Nanjing Regional meetup at GenScript Biotech Corporation

In August 21st, we participated in Nanjing Regional meetup at GenScript Biotech Corporation with teams from Beijing, Sichuan, Jiangsu, etc. We were lucky to visit the showroom and labs of the corporation to learn more about the mission, responsibility and accomplishments of this famous synthetic biology company. After presenting our project for iGEM 2020 season: MFCs Improved in Different Aspects Safely, we exchanged ideas with the experienced judges as well as iGEMers from various parts of China. We acquire lots of valuable advice and inspirations to improve our project, broaden our knowledge in synthetic biology by learning from each other and make friends with iGEMers across China.

Aug 30th | Attend High School team meeting in Conference of China iGEMer Community (CCiC)

We enjoyed the four lecturers’ experience and academic development in the competition. We also got different perspective from a high school teacher, Nian Weifeng, and learnt how to do as a public educator in later human practices. In the panel session, Shi George from GreatBay_SZ, (finalists in iGEM 2019) told us that one core act of human practices is to close the loop between what we designed and what people desired, what they did in the last year project and what we can do in our M.I.D.A.S. to better develop an accessible and effective MFC.

Sep. 10th | consult to engineer and deputy director of related companies

We interviewed experts working in the field of environmental engineering and in the Research & Development Department of new energy, seeking their advice in improving and commercializing our MFCs. We are honored to invite Mr. REN Desheng, General Engineer of Jiangsu jiangnan environmental engineering design Institute and Dr. ZHU Fahua, Deputy Director of Guodian Science and Technology Co.Ltd for a constructive set of ideas.
We learned that energy-generation products related to Synthetic Biology have not been available yet in the market and we still needed to improve the energy-generation efficiency of our MFC to commercialize it. “But it’s really nice to see a type of Microbial Fuel Cell that can generate electricity while decomposing organic waste at the same time” Mr.REN said.
Mr. REN also offered a valuable piece of advice that industrial waste water can be utilized in the anode to reduce production costs, “waste water is actually not useless, but it contain abundant carbon sources and valuable minerals and ions” Dr. ZHU Fahua, expert working on the leading edge of New Energy development, pointed out that renewable energy will gradually replace traditional forms of energy in the future and extensive researches & studies in renewable energy is required to shift our future. Another developing trend of energy consumption is recycling the waste products and turn the waste into resources. ‘Try to generate energy from the waste. Biogas power generation is a very good example.’ Dr. ZHU pointed out.

(View more in Interview with Mr. Ren and Dr. Zhu)