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Bielefeld team wins gold medal at iGEM

Published on 7. November 2014, 09:14 h
Biofuel from CO2 impresses jury

Last weekend (31 October - 3 November 2014), ten Bielefeld Master’s degree students were rewarded for their hard work in the laboratory over the past six months. At the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition) in Boston, USA, the team received a gold medal for their project “The Transformers - from CO2 to Biofuel”. The students impressed the expert jury with their project to produce a biofuel using electrical energy and carbon dioxide. The iGEM Competition, which started out as an internal competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. Bielefeld University has been participating for 5 years.


Das erfolgreiche Bielefelder Team: (v.l. hinten) David Wollborn, Tore Bleckwehl, Sebastian Blunk, Boas Pucker, Julian Droste; (v.l. vorn) Janina Tiemann, Sandra Brosda, Annika Fust, Birte Hollmann und Simon Riedl. Foto: iGEM Team Bielefeld
Bielefeld’s successful team: (back row from left) David Wollborn, Tore Bleckwehl, Sebastian Blunk, Boas Pucker, Julian Droste; (front row from left) Janina Tiemann, Sandra Brosda, Annika Fust, Birte Hollmann and Simon Riedl. Photo: iGEM Team Bielefeld
“The atmosphere at the Giant Jamboree and the international exchange on synbio was beyond compare. There were a lot of innovative projects and exciting ideas,” said team member David Wollborn. “All that hard work during the summer months paid off, and we are thrilled to receive a gold medal,” added team member Janina Tiemann.

Current climate problems were the incentive behind the students’ theme: there is insufficient infrastructure in the world to be able to store or transport renewable energies. CO2 emissions are increasing and oil threatens to become scarce.

The Bielefeld students took Escherichia coli bacteria and reengineered them so that they produced economically important products, e.g. a biofuel. A positive side effect of this process is that CO2, a chemical compound considered to be one of the major causes of global warming, is bound and removed from the air in this way. The bacterium cleans the air, so to speak, makes it healthier for people and at the same time helps to protect the environment. Academics from Bielefeld University’s Faculty of Biology and Faculty of Technology supported the students. Professor Dr. Jörn Kalinowski from the CeBiTec (Center for Biotechnology) of Bielefeld University is the team’s supervisor.

Besides the work in the laboratory, the competition involves the students’ presenting their project to the public, reflecting on possible applications, and looking for sponsors. At the NRW Day (North Rhine-Westphalia Day) in Bielefeld, for example, the students had a booth where they offered different experiments for children and had posters explaining synthetic biology and their iGEM project to visitors. They also developed possible application scenarios in detail during their cooperation with the European initiative “SYNENERGENE”. The initiative promotes dialogue between scientific research, the public and industry.

The iGEM Competition is an international competition in the field of synthetic biology, and is aimed at student teams. Every year, young scientists from around the globe come together in Boston, USA, to present their projects. Among the 230 teams taking part this year from all over the world, 11 were from Germany. In 2013, the Bielefeld team was First Runner Up in the world final.

Further information is available online at:
http://2014.igem-bielefeld.de/overview.php

Contact:
Nils-Christian Lübke, Bielefeld University
Center for Biotechnology - CeBiTec / Graduate Center / Graduate Cluster Industrial Biotechnology
Phone: +49 (0)521 106-12263   
E-mail: nils-christian.luebke@uni-bielefeld.de

Assoc. Professor Dr. Jörn Kalinowski, Bielefeld University
Center for Biotechnology - CeBiTec / Technology Platforms / Technology Platform Genomics
Phone: +49 (0)521 106-8756   
Email: joern@cebitec.uni-bielefeld.de

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