Down into the Testtube

The art and science workshop from iGEM Berlin.

The Workshop

By what can I identify a BioBrick? How do I synthesize DNA? And why is E. coli involved in that?

In the laboratory, scientists are designing completely new living creatures to simplify our daily life: Bacteria starting to glow when they come in contact with poisonous water, are remote controlled with magnets or they produce rare earths from common household wastes.

Within the two days workshop „Down into the Test Tube“ - we brought together people from different disciplines to work together at new solution for future problems. Collectively we played around with paper, scissors and laser cutter to build analogue, experimental objects, which can help us to understand synthetic biology and to find new solutions.

The Ideas and Projects

Invisible Skin — Klara Kaden & Alexander Govoni | Finding possibilities to make human tissue transparent, inducing changable characteristics of light refraction and thus opening up many new possibilities in medicine - from diagnostic methods to new therapy options e.g. in field of cancer treatment.

BioBrick Playset — David Schöler & Carla Streckwall | The projects deals with the idea of BioBricks as a toy. Like a playset, you can interact and play with the bricks and therefore change the outcome of a future genetically modified bacteria.

Ugly functionality — Johann Bauerfeind | Will our future be slimy and disgusting when synthetic biology is a regular part of our future? The project is experimenting with new interactions and the relationship between human and E.Coli.

Artificial leaves roof — Julia Klauer & Andrés Salazar | Our idea is to design artificial leaves made out of silk that perform photosynthesis. They will function with sunlight and different shapes will be engineered depending on the application. Our focus is on “green shelter roofs”. It would be made out of rows of V-shaped leaves that change their position if humidity increased. When rain falls down the leaves bend to each other and close the surface. For example they could be particularly useful for outdoor-pavilions, tree houses, market stalls or sun blinds. It blurs the borders between indoor and outdoor and could change the relationship of the people to the environment. It’s a useful architectural tool which doesn’t provide just a beautiful decoration but rather demonstrate processes of biology and call attention to alternative sustainable materials. Furthermore oxygen levels will be increased by photosynthesis that could make the below area more appropriate for crowded events. In order to make the prices more affordable, genetically modified spiders could be used to produce the necessary silk.

Bodoratus — Liang Zhipeng & Christina Riemschneider | A future company which sell individual smells, injected with genetically modified viruses. The smells may make you a better human - but are highly addictive!

Synthetic Tattoo — Salaheddine Ali & So Kanno | When everybody look the same and have the same synthetic biology "add-ons" - how will a human show his or hers individuality? An implanted cell tattoo could help.

G.Coli — Carla Streckwall & Willi Hauck | The G.coli was a speculative idea for an artificial protein expression which polymerized into a rock-solid or steal like polymer via the E.coli bacteria. The idea was, the growth of E.coli into a crack of a broken material. Simultaneously the expression of an artificial protein is performed by the bacteria. The actual polymerization would be imagined via a radiation treatment after the bacterial growth is sufficient. Therefore the bacterial will no longer be vital and the polymerization is triggered. In the end the crack is filled with a solid polymer and therefore the material is repaired.