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Remote-controlled E. coli bacteria? That’s the aim of the interdisciplinary iGEM Team Berlin!

Magnetic E. coli?

The bacteria shall be optimized for the absorption and synthesis of iron in order to remote-control them magnetically. Small and efficient E. coli units with various areas of use shall be the result.

These cells are attractive as they offer new solutions in bio therapeutics, bio materials and bio process engineering. Furthermore, we want to use these cells as remote controlled bacteria that can be controlled by a real time computer interface.


In October 2014, a team of Berlin students from a variety of backgrounds are participating for the first time in the international genetically engineered machines competition. For our project, the iGEM Berlin team has decided to make E. coli bacteria susceptible to magnetic fields. By knocking out the iron efflux transporter (FieF) and iron uptake suppressor (FUR), we want to increase the total iron level of the cytosol. By sequestering iron in a ferritin protein, iron crystals are formed and the cell is detoxified. In order to create ferromagnetic of super paramagnetic crystals, we will then use an intensive high through put media optimization to discover the best conditions for the formation of magnetic nanoparticles in E. coli. Furthermore, we will work with other metal binding proteins like metallothioneins and phytochelatin synthases in order to achieve nanoparticle synthesis in E. coli. Once we have discovered the best way to magnetize E. coli bacteria we will build and characterize a suitable BioBrick that can be used by any research lab or iGEM team in the world in order to remote control the movement of E. coli cells.


Our team is made up of 17 undergraduates and postgraduates from a wide range of disciplines as well as our supervisors. The first iGEM Team Berlin 2014 is an assembly of highly motivated students from different universitys. Due to the multidisciplinarity our team is able to find different strategies to solve complex problems in synthetic biology. Hosted by Prof. Dr. Nediljko Budisa from the TU Berlin, our lab is located at the Müller-Breslau-Straße 10, 10623 Berlin. Come by for a visit (Monday 5 pm).


Our country uses a four-part „Safety Level“ rating system for laboratories. Level 4 is used for the most dangerous organisms. This is equivalent to the WHO system. The Safety Level of our lab is Level 1 (low risk).