Team:London Biohackspace/Collaborations

working with universities and other community labs

London iGEM Meet-up

On the 31st of July, Birbeck and UCL hosted an afternoon of talks and discussions with iGEM members from the Birbeck, UCL, London BIohackspace, Westminster and Kent teams. Followed by poster presentations, the goal of this event was to bring iGEMers together along with members of the academia to discuss collaborations and issues of relevance in the development of the projects.

Shuffle Festival

Shuffle Festival was a week long festival held in Mile End. The week-long festivities involve film, science, storytelling, performance art, architectural installations, walks, food, comedy and music. Members from London Biohackspace had an opportunity to run a stall on July 26th at the Migration Pavilion. We ran a “Beer Simulation Workshop” where we provided visitors with Vanilla, Lemon and Miraculin flavour.

2015 London iGEM Bootcamp

The UCL iGEM boot camp is a week long event designed to provide iGEM participants with a crash course in the skills necessary to compete in the iGEM competition. This years boot camp was attended by team members from University College London’s own 2015 undergraduate team along with team members from Birkbeck University and the community-run London Biohackspace laboratory. The camp primarily consisted of a number of technical workshops designed to help iGEM newcomers (and a few grizzled veterans) develop essential iGEM lab skills such as biobrick design and construction along with bacterial culturing and transformation techniques. Further workshops were also available on topics such as how computational modelling can lead to iGEM success, constructing your own spectrophotometer and how to build an award winning wiki (without having to stay up all night on wiki-freeze deadline day). Previous iGEM participants were on hand throughout the week to provide assistance as well as offer invaluable advice on how this years teams can excel in the iGEM competition (step 1:rob a bank). The week concluded with a mini-jamboree in which each team presented their chosen project and current progress to the rest of the group in a format similar to the iGEM giant jamboree held in Boston at the end of the competition.


We had an opportunity to visit Hackarium, located in Lausanne, Switzerland back in June. Hackuarium was founded in 2014 – a fairly new community lab. We were fortunate enough to interact with the biohackers at Hackarium and we are potentially working together on the beer project by providing them with some sample strains for them to sequence. Their “Beer Decoded: the 1000 Beer Genome Project” recently got funded on Kickstarter.

Clearing up confusion in the registry

As part of the main activity of the 2015 London iGEM Bootcamp we attempted to perform a digestion, ligation and transformation of a simple biobrick and backbone with a promoter. However, not all was as it seemed! The simple biobrick we had chosen to ligate into a biobrick backbone was an mRFP coding biobrick (BBa__I13507) to be found in well 21P, plate 4 of the 2015 distribution.

Upon transforming the final product of the restriction + digestion we did not, however, get any visible mRFP production from our cells. Noticing something might be up, we checked the sequencing results for this part and discovered that it did not match the part's proper sequence. After doing a quick BLAST search through the registry using an iGEM registry BLAST tool we discovered that well 21P, plate 4 of the 2015 distribution actually contained BBa_I13602. Looking at the history of the part, we can surmise that in 2011 BBa_I13602 was pipetted into the well intended for BBa__I13507. It's also interesting to note that the two codes could easily be confused when hand written on something like a microfuge tube.

To prevent teams from getting caught in this mix-up in the future we have submitted a part with the correct sequence for the RBS, mRFP and double terminator (and we have even included the original barcode). YOu can find this corrected biobrick here.