A highlight in the Synthetic biology calendar is the iGEM giant jamboree. This November, nearly 5,400 participants from 310 teams representing 44 countries across the globe gathered in Boston to present their synthetic biology projects and interact with each other.
Our corner of the world was well-represented by two Australian and one New Zealand team.
Team Macquarie won “Best Energy Project” and obtained a gold medal with their project H2ydroGEM. They designed the Hydrogen Gas Producing Gene Custer aimed for a clean and sustainable fuel resource. According to the team “(we) sought to imitate the most efficient natural mechanism for the transduction of energy – photosynthesis. By engineering it into E. coli, ‘green’ hydrogen fuel can be produced simply from sunlight and water. With successful gas production, our team then moved on to tackle the next big issue of hydrogen energy-it’s safe storage.” With impressive yields of Hydrogen gas produced this is not the last we hear of this project.
Team Sydney Australia with their project DISCO (Designing Insulin that is Single-Chain and Open source) also won a gold medal. As they write in their website, “(our team) aims to produce stable insulin using an efficient, cost-effective and simple method. We produced a proinsulin identical in sequence to human proinsulin, and we also designed and produced our own single-chain insulin that we have named ‘Winsulin’.”
Last but not least, team SECA_NZ decided to tackle an important issue of New Zealand kiwi producers face, cold temperatures that threaten production. According to their website, “(our vision is to) have crop plants that do not require costly interventions in order to be protected from winter temperatures. We hope that in time farmers will not fear the oncoming of winter, or have their livelihood threatened by a sudden frost. Genetic engineering provides an avenue for this.” The team was nominated for Enterpreneurship prize.
Our warm congratulations to all three teams, and we hope to see more great projects from the next generation of our future synthetic biologists!