The following two teams and QHFZ-China collaborated quite frequently across this season, which is why we consider them as dear partners. Detailed records can be found in the partnership page.
NEFU-China and QHFZ-China helped each other a lot during this season, which is why we consider them as one of the teams we hold most dear as collaborators. We collaborated primarily through one-to-one meetings in which we critiqued each other’s projects and gave advice on how our projects could be improved. We shared gene parts and helped each other measure them. This brief list is nowhere near the amount of help we provided each other; there are many other instances of our collaboration.
We first came to know NEFU-China via the Northeastern coastal areas online Meetup at Jul. 18th, 2020. During this meeting, both teams gave wonderful speeches which drew them to each other. QHFZ-China, our team, became very interested in NEFU-China’s project, which revolved around engineered bacteria and their practical applications on the battlefield(more specifically, sweeping for mines), and inquired them about it. One such question was about how this engineered bacteria would be able to determine the number of mines and the distance between them, to which NEFU-China gave a very detailed answer.
Team NEFU-China impressed us a lot in Northeastern coastal areas online Meetup. The picture was provided by our instructor, Xing Zhang.
QHFZ-China’s curiosity in NEFU-China’s project was fortunately reciprocated, which led to a meeting on Aug. 5th, 2020. During this discussion, both teams exchanged ideas, and we discovered that our design could possibly supplement the NEFU-China project and contribute to our own proof of concept. Thus, we designed a strategy that would allow NEFU-China’s project to have an extended shelf life, which would be greatly beneficial if it were to be applied. A direct consequence of this exchange is further collaboration in which we exchanged suggestions to each other’s projects. For example, QHFZ-China suggested that TNT as well as other explosives are extremely dangerous, so NEFU-China should take utmost precaution in their project and introduce some tighter safety regulations.
The one-to-one meetup between the two teams. The number of people was more than 14 because sevseal ones use the same conputer to attend the meetup.
Mutual Assistance Of Arabinose Sensor
NEFU-China graciously shared their arabinose sensor (AraC-ParaBAD-GFP) with QHFZ-China, which greatly benefitted the project of the latter. Later, QHFZ-China managed to construct 2 composite parts based on the vector AraC-ParaBAD-CAHS 106094 (used to express the TDP CAHS 106094 in E. coli DH5α) and AraC-ParaBAD-mf-Lon (used to express a protease meant to degrade TDPs). Without this, the project of QHFZ-China would’ve failed or suffered a great setback at the very least. In return, the result of the parts we constructed proved the modularity of the arabinose sensor, benefitting NEFU-China.
NEFU-China sent us the arabinose sensor plasmid, the map of the plasmid, their data about the plasmid and the detailed description of Pbad. We put CAHS 106094 and mf-Lon respectively into the plasmid to construct vectors, so that we can complete our project.
Meanwhile, the iGEM competition encouraged participants to measure parts in different laboratories and sites to confirm that the part’s properties were not unique to one environment, which we did. We first measured the AraC-ParabAD-GFP part and found that it sensitively reacts to L-Arabinose, and that 0.2% is the best concentration percentage for induction. What’s more, we also helped to test other conditions: we found that :
(1) the sensor did not respond to D-Arabinose.
(2) D-Glucose and D-Trehalose affected it, and that the effect of the latter was significantly more profound. Without a doubt, these results enriched our understanding about the part, which greatly helped us in future experiments.
We measured the part from NEFU-China. GFP is obviously induced by L-arabinose. Then we tested the induction effects of different L-arabinose concentrations. Moverover, we confirmed that D-arabinose could not induce it. Glucose and trehalose affected the induction. People have known glucose can affect it, so we gave an hypothesis to explain why trehalose affected it.
Verification Of QHFZ-China's Bacteria Storage Method
This year, QHFZ-China used freeze-drying to make bacteria into dry powder, which would enable the engineered bacteria to be stored and transported at room temperature. NEFU-China, alongside many other teams we communicated to, expressed that they were impressed with what we had done. To ensure the feasibility of our method, NEFU-China helped us conduct simulations. They sent us the engineered bacteria that contained the TNT sensor and TDP expression module, which we cultured and made into dry powder through freeze-drying. Then we packed it well and sent it back to them from Beijing to Harbin, which simulated transportation at room temperature. Then they tested if the bacteria were still alive.
We sent TDP expression vectors to them. They transformed it into their engineered bacteria and sent the bacteria to us. We made dry powder with the bacteria and snt back to them at room temperature. They help us do the experiment.
However, they found the bacteria dead and impossible to revive. To solve this problem, we began to analyze the details. Fortunately, after NEFU-China tried many times to changed every possible factor, they found the reason that caused this issue and successfully resuscitated the bacteria powder. Through their attempt, our concept were proved by another team other, which meant our design was credible. We appreciate NEFU-China's help and attempt.
NEFU-China helped us prove that the bacteria could be recovered and express fluorescence. They also helped us measure the survival rate of the dry bacteria. The experiment proved that our design is meaningful but also need to be improved before practical application.
Their member, Zhifu Shang, gave his experimental record to us, you can click here to see it.
We raised an idea that via our project, we could provide a longer preservation time for NEFU-China's engineered bacteria, so that the practicability is enhanced. NEFU-China thought this idea was very helpful (Score: 4 out of 5).
Their plan, our idea and the kit we designed.
Other Instances Of Collaboration
The two teams also helped each other in many other aspects, including but not limited to:
(1) sharing their sheets and copies of the safety form with each other and checking on each other's safety forms.
(2) NEFU-China giving immensely helpful technical support to QHFZ-China when the latter had some issues making subtitles for the promotion video.
QHFZ-China → XMU-China
Both XMU-China and QHFZ-China used mf-Lon protease in their projects, but the gene is not easy to synthesize. XMU-China could not get the gene from gene synthesis corporations until September. To avoid the risk of not having enough time to conduct the downstream experiments, QHFZ-China provided them with a plasmid that can express mf-Lon to help them carry out the next experiment more smoothly.
We sent the mf-Lon expression plasmid to XMU-China, as well as some souvenirs of QHFZ-China 2019 and 2020.
QHFZ-China → ASTWS-China
We shared our experience about the online meeting with ASTWS-China. On August 1st, we held our meeting before them, which allowed us to give them some suggestions, such as how to better record the information presented in a meeting and how to exchange ideas more effectively by using some special links. They told us about their concerns about the coming meeting and we tried our best to help them find solutions. We are glad to say that they held their meeting smoothly and they gave us some feedback on how we could hold our secondary meeting better in reciprocation. We also shared our projects with each other, and helped each other find more teams to collaborate with.
Our meeting about holding a meetup.
BNDS_China → QHFZ-China
(1) In the preparation stage, Wanji Li, a senior student of BNDS_China, introduced to us the general situation of the iGEM jamboree and put forth several practical suggestions. For example, he told us that we must improve our execution, which benefits us during the next few months. Wanji Li also gave us some insights into synthetic biology.
(2) To select an appropriate topic, we had an online meeting to choose one from our four optional subjects to which we invited Wanji Li. He gave us many tips. For example, he told us that experimentation and research regarding TDPs were conducted very carefully and could be improved by adding other stress resistant protein in the future.
NFLS → QHFZ-China
NFLS helped us found many teams studying engineered bacteria. We then connected with two teams from the list NFLS offered. Via the interview with the two teams, ECUST_China 2018 and BNU-China 2019, we knew our project was very useful to other teams.
QHFZ-China → NFLS
We helped NFLS with some experiments, including transformation and SDS-PAGE.
QHFZ-China → NAU-CHINA
During the project investigation stage, NAU-CHINA planned to use the CP6 promoter this year. As we used it last year, they came and asked us about what our experience was like. We told them that CP6 is a strong promoter and works very well.
NAU-CHINA → QHFZ-China
To select an appropriate topic, we had an online meeting to choose one from our four topic choices. We invited Chengzhu Fang, a senior student of NAU-CHINA , to attend the meeting, who helped us greatly with several pieces of advice. For example, she suggested that we should choose two topics and do further research on them in order to make a more educated decision.
SHSBNU_China → QHFZ-China
To select an appropriate topic, we had an online meeting to choose one from our four topic choices. We invited Cheng Li, the advisor of SHSBNU, to attend this meeting, who put forth several practical suggestions for us. For example, he told us that in the future, our TDPs could be used to enhance the stress resistance of bacteria so that it might contribute to terraformation of Mars.
QHFZ-China → SCU-China
QHFZ-China provided SCU-China with information they needed for their project.
This year, our project focused on the storage methods of engineered bacteria outside of the laboratory. To measure the value of our project, we interviewed several other iGEM teams. We let the team give us a score. 5 score means that our project design is extremely conducive to the practical application of their project; while 0 score means no help.
The teams that accepted our interview are: NEFU-China (score: 4), NEU_China (score: 4), ASTWS-China (score: 5), KEYSTONE (score: 5), BHSF (score: 3), BJ101HS (score: 4), QHFZ-China (2019) (score: 5), BNU-China (2019) (score: 4), BEAS_China (2019) (score: 2) and ECUST_China (2018) (score: 4).
Meetups that we attended
We submitted a small video and project overview to The 4th Southern China Regional Online Meeting. In the voting stage, we did not obtain enough support, so that we did not have a chance to give a talk during the meeting. However, we attended the meeting and got a lot of information about iGEM this year and other teams.
On July 18, we participated in Northeastern coastal areas online meeting. We actively participated in the discussion and tried our best to advise other teams.
We were invited to introduce our project design during the meeting. The participants spoke highly of our plan, and we received the guidance of other undergrad teams and the organizing committee.
We realized that NEFU_China would make a kind of unique engineered bacteria this year. As we aimed at helping store engineered bacteria this year. We began to collaborate. What's more, they gave their AraC-ParaBAD gene part (arabinose sensor) to us, which helps us a lot.
The meetup, our script and ppt, the team that impressed us a lot and then we had deep collaborations.
Our instructor (Xing Zhang) took part in this session as the judge of CCIC national exchange meeting and put forward many suggestions for other teams.
ZJUT_China_B knew us via CCiC. They wanted to use TDPs to store their Cas13a protein and they are able to help us do some experiments. We decided to make a partnership this year.
Meetup that we held
After we attended the The 4th Southern China Regional Online Meeting , we found that a meeting is essential for iGEM teams to improve their project, presentation skills, and collaboration partners. However, for high school teams, there weren't such meetings, so we decided to host it in August.
Aug. 1st, 2020. 8:00 a.m. ~ 12:30 p.m.
Online meeting (Zoom).
Indeed, we tried to hold an offline party for better communication. However, our teacher rejected the proposal in order to ensure safety.
There were 11 teams attending the meetup. The high school teams were BHSF, BJ101HS, BNDS_China, JNFLS, KEYSTONE, Nanjing_NFLS, NFLS, RDFZ-China and QHFZ-China. Besides, we also invited two undergrad teams to join us. They were Tsinghua and BUCT-China.
We invited the following experts to attend the meetup. They gave us advice about our project and information about
A. Tian Wang, director of development center, Tsinghua University High School
B. Hongzheng Tan, manager of research laboratory, Tsinghua University High School
C. Wei Wei, associate professor of biology, Nanjing University
D. Jiabao Li, ambassador of After iGEM, 2020
E. Lu Ye, assistant to the president, and manager of STEM technological innovation center, Ulink College of Suzhou Industrial Park
F. Yuanze Liu, biology teacher, Ulink College of Suzhou Industrial Park
G. Tianze Zhou, senior iGEMer, founder and CEO of ZENO Co., Ltd.
H. Cheng Li, senior iGEMer, core member of CCiC
I. Qinglin Zeng, leader of iGEM team Tsinghua, 2020
J. Kenan Jia, a core member of iGEM team BUCT-China, 2020
K. Xing Zhang, the instructor of QHFZ-China.
L. Zhandong Jiao, leader of QHFZ-China.
The talks of the master and some guests.
The major participants were team members of the 11 teams above. However, some other teams also came as the audience, such as UCAS-China. What's more, we also released notes to attract ones that did not attend iGEM, to publicize iGEM and knowledge about synthetic biology. About 100 people were attending the meeting.
The presentations of the 11 teams.
Before the meeting, we set up a WeChat group to communicate and give notice. During the meeting, our member, Sizhe Duan, was the main conductor. After the prologue, Tian Wang and Zhandong (Bill) Jiao made a speech, followed by Tianze Zhu, who shared some advice about experiments and human practices. Then each of the 11 teams gave a 10 minutes' talk, while the other participants and the guests offer some questions and advice. Intense Q&A lasted long. Finally, after iGEM, Jiabao Li shared the latest news about iGEM 2020; Wei Wei and Tianze Zhu gave a summary. As far as we know, all teams improved during the meeting, and some collaborations were set up, such as KEYSTONE and BUCT-China.
Key point: Why we are different?
A. Good preparation: after that, we decided to hold a meeting. We attended Northeastern coastal areas online meeting and carefully studied how to keep a meeting engaging.
B. Unique PK rule: we realized that good communication skills are fundamental. However, to Chinese high school students, many did not like to express themselves. As a result, during Q&A, there are always several outgoing ones speaking. To encourage everyone to say something, we set up a PK rule. After the talk of a team, we appointed a specific group to comment and question. The management made the meeting very bustling and communicative.
C. Reward mechanism: we scored every team and selected the most active teams—— BJ101HS and RDFZ-China. We invited Wei Wei and Tianze Zhu to give more advice to the two groups.
D. Feedback: after the meeting, we distributed and collected a questionnaire. By it, we knew the merit and demerit of the meeting. In the future, we had a direction to improve it.
E. Serial meetings: most meetings do not pay attention to the progress of iGEM teams. However, we hope to connect with the teams and offer help if some groups meet difficulties. So on Sep. 13th, we held a small online meeting again and communicated with several teams about the problems we could encounter in the near future.
F. Guidance: after we held the meeting, we knew that Team ASTWS-China also wanted to hold a meeting. However, they lack experience. So we had an online forum where we shared all our experience with them, such as how to master time, how to deal with a poor network connection, and how to stimulate Q&A.
We recorded the meetup and collect feedback to evaluate the meetup in our blog.
We hope the meeting would help the 11 teams and give an example of setting up an unforgettable gathering.