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Genetically Engineered Machines Competition 38

Posted by kdawson
from the birth-of-synthetic-biology dept.
aqkiva writes, "This past weekend, 33 schools from around the world gathered at MIT for the international genetically engineered machine competition. Teams consisting of mostly undergraduates had designed, built, tested, and characterized biological parts, devices, and systems over the course of the summer and came together to present their work. The competition is helping push the field of synthetic biology and opening access to the tools to engineer biological systems by providing standard biological components. The team from Slovenia won first prize overall for their engineering of mammalian systems and won the 'BioBrick,' a large metal Lego brick. The MIT team won the top prize for the best system with their engineering of bacteria that smell like wintergreen and banana. For news coverage of this weekend's jamboree, see the Boston Globe and Technology Review."
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Genetically Engineered Machines Competition

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  • ...bacteria that smell like wintergreen and banana

    Ok, so how long until we can get this stuff to feed on various waste products? I know I'd much rather have my cat's farts smell like wintergreen than, well, cat poop.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gardyloo (512791)
      I know I'd much rather have my cat's farts smell like wintergreen than, well, cat poop.

            Thanks a bloody lot. I've just suddenly started thinking about that gum I swallowed yesterday.
    • No, no...

      Biggest market = Mouthwash that lasts all day because it GROWS IN YOUR MOUTH!
    • *Stephen Hawking voice* You're idea of wintergreen cat feces intrigues me. Perhaps I will steal it */voice*

      In all seriousness it wouldn't be hard to do. Take gut bacteria and insert the genes in the wintergreen (Methyl salicylate) pathway. I suspect though the natural flora of the large intestine would outcompete the introduced variety. The two types would be the same except one wastes energy on a useless, and harmful product. Methyl salicylate is similar to salicylic acid, neither of which should be injest
      • by vfp_guru (667579)
        But, once this becomes common, who would ever want to eat bananas (or breath mints) again!?
    • The process the MIT team used to create pleasant-smelling bacteria is pretty interesting, and might address your comment about (ahem) cat farts. They started with a strain of E. coli that had indole production genes knocked out. This is important to note, because the chemical indole and its derivatives have very strong odors. In trace quantities, it is a component of many pleasantly scented oils, like oil of jasmine.

      In larger concentrations, indoles smell like feces. In fact, feces usually smell like

  • Finally there's a reason for including the term in the science curriculum, I'm sure the religious nuts will be whooping in the aisles.

     
  • Just what we need, a real life: "The Attack of the Blob: The Science Experiment Gone wrong".
  • Genetically-engineered machine pageant? Ah. Just make sure to let me know when Number 6 [consumating.com] shows up for the swimsuit competition segment.
  • Sounds alot like the FIRST robotics program. Our company (ITT) has sponsored a team the last 3 years, but may not this year because they claim there is no money available. We'll see- lots of fundraising is available.

    Given that this competition has quite a bit more lead time, I think you'd get much better results then the 4 week/6 week build time. Any program that brings the bright and talented, as well as the dedicated and interested in to work together in a competitive environment is a plus- we'll need
  • We are getting closer to the day of the terminator >
  • This is all really cool stuff. I'll admit, I'm biased. I go to a school that competed in iGEM, I'm good friends with a student team member, and I work for one of the faculty members on our iGEM team. My school's team modified E. coli bacteria to solve the burnt pancake problem [uiuc.edu]. It's essentially a biological computer, albeit extremely specialized.

    My ultimate point is that you shouldn't dismiss this stuff as useless or without practical application. Understand that the technology is just in its infancy, and
  • For those who dont know, Slovenia is the northernmost part of Ex-Yugoslavia, and Thomas Jefferson got inspiration from the rules of old Slovenia (Caranthania) when writing the Constitution.

    Another Slovene team recently created a nanoparticles detector for Europes NanoSafe2 (French link [empyree.org]).

    Back to topic: Slovenes are very hard-working but tend to depreciate themselves. Don't judge a book by the cover.

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