In 2011, NTNU organized and hosted the first Norwegian team to participate in the international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. This is the premier competition in synthetic biology for college and university students. Since its inception in 2004, the competition has grown to comprise more than 300 teams world wide. Each team receives a kit of biological parts, also called biobricks, from the Registry of Standard Biological Parts, which they will use and augment during their projects. Synthetic biology is an important topic, and the 2013 iGEM team was featured on Norwegian Public Television popular science program Schrödingers Katt.
Every year, the NTNU iGEM teams receive strong support from Dept. of Biotechnology, both in terms of laboratory space, mentoring by faculty members, and financial support. We are actively looking for sponsoring partners.
The NTNU iGEM, which is the world’s northern-most iGEM team, have historically consisted of students selected from a pool of applicants with diverse set of backgrounds, such as biotechnology, biology, physics, mathematics, computer science, and medicine. All students at NTNU are eligible to apply. The application procedures and deadlines will be announced to the different study programs every year.
Past NTNU iGEM team projects:
- Team 2018: Film Fighters. Bacteria are able to protect each other and communicate in a slimy layer called biofilm. Biofilm formation is very common in nature, but there can be major consequences when the wrong bacteria settle in these environments. The focus of this project is to reduce bacterial ability to form biofilms by inhibiting their quorum sensing mechanisms using CRISPR interference to inhibit the luxS gene. Testing this idea on E. coli TG1 cells, we were able to greatly reduce their biofilm production. The team received a Gold medal, as well as being one of only five nominees for Best Measurement award!
- Team 2017: Project PhageAge. The rapid rise in antibotic resistance is a severe threat to modern health and medicine. The team has chosen to take a closer look at phage therapy as an alternative to antibiotics. The team successfully developed a platform for evolving bacteriophages into killing specific, target bacteria that were previously resistant towards the phage. As bacterial antibiotics resistance mechanisms does not affect bacteriophages, this approach can be a promising contribution in the quest for battling multi-resistant bacterial infections. The team received a Gold medal.
- Team 2016: The XOR logic gate in a bacterium. Computers work by moving information between computational units, called gates. Each of these gates exhibits a simple logical statement (AND, OR, NOT…). Our goal is to implement an XOR gate in E. coli so that it may be applied to a new generation of biosensors, or for improving the process of industrial fermentations. In order to achieve this, we are developing a new system for engineering in vivo logic gates. The team received a Bronze medal.
- Team 2015: Glucose-sensing bacteria for insulin production. Diabetics have to rely on measuring blood glucose levels several times a day, and we want to investigate the possibility of engineering a bacterial glucose sensor that can simplify this task for diabetes patients in the future. We will achieve this by encapsulating engineered Pseudomonas putida cells in alginate microcapsules. The team received a Gold medal.
- Team 2014: SynECO2 – Using bacteria to reduce athmospheric CO2 levels. Emissions of CO2 have recieved a lot of attention in recent times, due to concerns that high emission levels are facilitating global warming. We will produce a plasmid that will increase photosynthetic bacteria’s rate of CO2 fixation. To do this, we will construct BioBricks that, when assembled, allow inducible expression of non-native genes in our chassis; Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. The team receved a Gold medal.
- Team 2013: VesiColi – a bacterial drug delivery vehicle based on outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) that all gram negative bacteria produce. The project is focused on manipulating the content of the OMVs by making E. coli cells (i) insert a fluorescent protein, and (ii) the transmembrane protein G derived from Streptococcus dysgalactiae ssp. equisimilisi into its OMVs. The team received a Bronze medal.
- Team 2012: A bacterial anti-cancer kamikaze. The project is to design and construct a complex genetic circuit that will constitutively produce a cell toxin, and also initiate lysis when E. coli cells are in close proximity to cancer tissue. Additionally, the team made the popular iGEM Matchmaker, facilitating collaborations between iGEM teams. The team received a Gold medal.
- Team 2011: A red fluorescent stress sensor. In response to a variety of stress factors, E. coli cells will produce the alarmone guanosine tetraphosphate (ppGpp). The synthetic circuit designed and constructed by the team will trigger when ppGpp is present and change color E. coli cells to red. The team received a Bronze medal.