The term biosafety refers to the minimisation of risks concerning the people working in the laboratory, the people outside the lab and the environment. Bacillus megaterium does not pose any risk by itself, be it to the researchers or to the general public. In the lab, we cultivate B. megaterium in culture medium under controlled conditions. Our main concerns regarding biosafety are:

  • toxicity of recombinant proteins
  • toxicity of degradation products
  • gene transfer (vertical and horizontal)

Toxicity of recombinant proteins

Recombinant proteins are proteins created by biotechnological means. The gene sequence coding the protein is inserted into a plasmid, which is transformed into the host organism. This recombinant DNA is then integrated into the organism of interest, which should now be able to express the recombinant protein.
One of our main concerns is that the recombinant proteins we generate could be toxic, even when our model organisms are not. We have used the synthesised hyaluronan synthase gene (has2) of the naked mole rat, which is a Biosafety level 1 (BSL-1) organism, and B. megaterium (BSL-1 organism).

Toxicity of degradation products

Our bacterium does not produce any toxic degradation products. Furthermore the cell culture is autoclaved before disposal, as is all other lab waste.

Gene transfer

There are two ways of gene transfer: when the transgene spreads from the transgenic population to a non-transgenic population of the same species, the transfer is called “vertical”; when the transgene spreads to a different species, one speaks of “horizontal” gene transfer.


We work in a BSL-1 lab, according to the EU directive 2000/54/EG and to the German law for the regulation of genetic engineering “Gesetz zur Regelung der Gentechnik [ (GenTG)] ”. This means that no pathogens are used and that by taking general precautionary measures no harm should come to the experimenter. We have received a safety briefing by our supervisor Prof. Dr. Müller and could ask all potentially occurring questions to Dipl.-Ing. M. Glander, who is responsible for safety in all the labs of the building.
General precautions include, but are not restricted to:

  • using labcoats and latex/nitril gloves
  • using safety goggles when necessary
  • never pipetting with the mouth
  • using a fume hood when working with volatile/flammable substances
  • storing and disposing of acids and bases separately

Safety Forms