Every year, the University of Groningen composes a multidisciplinary team of students who compete in the iGEM competition. iGEM is an international competition in biotechnology aimed at finding new solutions to current global and local societal issues. This year, the team consists of fifteen students of the UG’s Faculty of Science and Engineering. The team has developed a bacterium that protects plants from small worms, called nematodes, who infiltrate the root system of many crops. By taking away the nutrition of the plant, these small organisms are responsible for billions of losses in agriculture. The team will defend their RootPatch project in the final online competition, which will be held from November 14 to 22.
The project of the iGEM team is based on neuropeptides that specifically influence the nervous system of the harmful nematodes. By using neuropeptides, the team can manipulate the behavior of the nematode, keeping it away from the plant’s environment without affecting other organisms in the soil. They will apply this technology by engineering a bacterium that will stay at the roots of the plant and that will continuously create the right neuropeptides to keep the plant safe. To prove the principle of their RootPatch technology, they will test out the project first for the potato plant.
Watch the video below to learn more about the RootPatch project:
Besides developing their innovative plant protection method, the iGEM team has started to work together with Science LinX, NEMO Amsterdam and Erasmus Medical Center to help in educating high school students about biotechnology. With a new and free online lesson series plan, students will learn about the novel and popular biotechnology tool CRISPR-Cas9 and all the ethical implications that engineering DNA brings along.
iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machine) is an annual competition in biotechnology at MIT Boston with participants from all over the world. The aim of the iGEM competition is to find innovative ways to use the tools of genetic engineering to solve societal issues. An iGEM team designs and creates a living machine to facilitate new solutions. This year, for the first time, our university’s team collaborated with the Minerva Art Academy to improve in the communication of this form of science.
Due to the corona virus, the big jamboree in Boston cannot take place this year. Instead, all teams compete against each other in a major online event held from November 14 till 22.
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