The AcCELLerator



We are glad to cooperate this year for the second time in succession with the motivated iGEM Team Heidelberg. As some of our team leaders were in the last years’ iGEM-Team, we knew about the spirit of Heidelberg’ teams and were hopeful to have a great collaboration as well as a lot of fun with them.
Fortunately, three members of them decided to meet us spontaneously after a demanding meeting within our team. The evening turned out to become great including stories about iGEM, local gastronomic specialities typical for Freiburg or Heidelberg and much more. The next day, we talked about our projects and possibilities to cooperate. It turned out that both teams use the same light system (LOV) for their experiments, although one – their team – worked with bacteria, the other one – our team – with mammalian cells. We showed them where we are working, how we work and presented our latest experimental results. In addition, we talked about the light boxes wherein we conduct our light experiments and about the appropriate conditions of a light experiment.
After we had explained to them how to handle mammalian cells, we heard some information about their interesting project “iGEM@home” that includes the possibility to share unnecessary resources of the computer to speed up modeling of complex protein structures. In terms of important aspects of their project, we were interested in their weekly published blog. A few weeks later, Team Heidelberg gave us the possibility to write a text for their blog about light induction systems, a central part of their and our project. Their blog is released every Monday. HERE you can read the text that was published on the blog. As a quid pro quo, they helped us by modeling our system: as they had a lot of modeling work in their project, they could give us helpful advices to improve our modeling.




We noticed during the meetup in Munich that we our both teams had a good foundation for a coopartion. We skyped several times discussing our projects and how to exactly work together to bring our both teams forward. We also had the pleasure of meeting Micheal face to face when he spontanously showed up in Freiburg. In addition, we met again at the Aachen meetup and finalized the collaboration. Team Aachen helped us by providing us with laser-cutted photomasks for 384 well plates that made it possible to generate QR-codes on 384 well plates. They also started to generate an app for us that is able to scan a cell culture plate and read out the gained data-matrix. The Application is based on Windows Phone 8. Michael programmed it for us and was very helpful during the trouble shooting process. However, as we started the collaboration a bit too late, the app could not be finished. Nevertheless, it could be shown that in principle, a data matrix can be read by the app. The app acts intuitive, quick and easy and promotes various application areas in the future.
Click here to see the homepage of Team Aachen

We returned the favour by validating their measurment  device for the ascertainment of optical densites. As we knew that they generated their data for procaryotic cells and they had no possibility to work with mammalian cells, we measured the OD for mammalian cell suspensions.

We made dilution series of a murine cell lines (NIH3T3) with a starting cell number of 10^6 cells per ml, what is a realistic working density and measured the transmission of light with a prototype of their device. In parallel we measured the optical density (OD) of each sample with NanoDrop. To verify the data we performed the experiment with biological as well as with technical triplicates. Cells were diluted in completed growth medium to simulate realistic conditions. Providing these data for Team Aachen they could calculate the true OD value of each sample. The Team incorporated our measured data in their project.


Team Darmstadt exchanged knowledge with us regarding the usage of the fluorescent marker mKate that we used in our cloning strategy. In addition, they helped us by distributing our survey.


RWTH Aachen

After the meetup in Munich we also went to the Aachen meetup. It was really nice to meet the other teams and to see how their projects have progressed since the last meetup. Also we were very grateful for the opportunity to present our project and getting feedback.

LMU Munich

To get in touch with other iGEM teams we took part in two meet ups. The first one was organized from the team of the LMU Munich. We did this and that, and socialized much those days. We exchanged among the different teams and we came to the conclusion to set up a collaboration with the iGEM team Aachen.

A Proposal Of The German iGEM Teams Concerning Intellectual Property

During the meetup of the German iGEM teams from 23rd to 25th May also workshops took place in which amongst others we discussed the topic of bioethics. Moral questions were addressed, regarding the value of life and human influence on it, as well as questions dealing with the possible socioeconomic effects of synthetic biology.

Especially the topic of an open source vs. patent controlled field accounted for a large part of the discussion. During the discussion one student brought up the point that the legal status of parts in registry remains unclear and that there are parts (e.g. BBa_K180009) where only upon a closer look it becomes clear that the rights are company–owned. The issue that the legal status of parts in the registry remains uncertain is also mentioned in a recent article published by Nature (Bryn Nelson ‘Synthetic Biology: Cultural Divide ’, Nature 509, 152–154, 08 May 2014) :

"[N]o one can say with any certainty how many of these parts are themselves entirely free of patent claims."

We, the German iGEM teams, therefore like to suggest the addition of a new feature to the parts registry:

A dedicated data field of license information for each BioBrick part.

For the implementation, we propose to introduce two new fields to BioBrick part entries in the registry:

  1. A string property "LicenseInfo"
  2. A traffic light property (grey, green, yellow, red) to indicate the level of legal protection (unknown, BPA-like, free for research purposes, heavily protected)
This image shows a how the proposed field LicenceInfo could look like in the registry.

Implementing this feature would in our opinion further clarify and extend the parts info, provide a machine-readable format and thus improve future entries. With the emerging Entrepreneurship track and applications getting closer to industrial realization, the legal status becomes more and more important. Also it would raise awareness to the topic of the legal status of parts, leading to a debate which could further promote the idea of open source. At the same time we hope that examination of most parts will show that they are indeed free of restrictive legal protections.

The German iGEM Teams,