Team:KU Leuven


Our Project


Patterns are fascinating, from the veins of a leaf to the stripes of a zebra. They are everywhere in nature, but why and how they are formed is not entirely understood. The way cells of multicellular organisms interact to generate a specific pattern has triggered our curiosity. We, the KU Leuven 2015 iGEM team, engaged in a project on the regulatory mechanisms of motif formation. Our mission is to engineer bacteria able to communicate and influence each other’s behaviour resulting in the assembly of predictable visible patterns.

We designed a system in which two different E. coli cell types A and B, when mixed on an agar plate, organize themselves in a complex pattern. The regulatory circuit controls and steers two bacterial properties: cell-cell interaction and motility. This circuit makes bacterial cells of type A to produce an adherent protein and at the same time repel B-type cells. We expect the development of a pattern, where A-cells are clumping together and B-cells form circles around A-cells. This synthetic bacterial system will provide us with a platform to study the fundamentals of pattern formation. Such synthetic circuits will be useful, e.g., for engineering complex tissues consisting of different cell types.

A big part of our project is its three layer structure modeling. The colony level considers the bacteria a large group of cells, described by partial differential equations. On the other hand, the internal level describes the interactions within the single cells. Finally, our hybrid model merges both colony and internal level to define the cell-cell interactions of our pattern forming cells. Those models give us even more potential to explain, plan and explore the fascinating, fundamental research of patterns.

A last message of the team

We are back from the Jamboree!!!

We were very eager to present our hard work to the jury and we received positive feedback:

First of all, we won a gold medal!!!

And we were nominated for 4 prizes in the Overgrad section: Best Poster, Best Education and Public Engagement, Best Model, and Best New Application Project, for which we were the runner-up! On top of that, we received the Interlab Study Award!

We are very happy with these results and we want to thank everybody who helped us achieve this! Thank you very much for giving us the summer of a lifetime!!!

To view all our achievements press the medal!

Wiki Game

Browsing through iGEM team wiki’s can be a time consuming job. To make this easier and fun we invented a wiki game to help you discover the nook and corner of our wiki. It allows you to get a simple overview of our wiki. Play our wiki game!

Meet our team

We made a movie to introduce to you our team and our project. Check it out!


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Telephone: +32(0)16 32 73 19