Our experiments were conducted mainly in the Biocatalysis and Biotransformation Laboratory (BBL) in Xiamen University. This lab was constructed according to the standards for a Biosafety Level 1(BSL-1) lab in the Laboratory biosafety manual, third edition, by the WHO, Geneva, 2004. When it comes to laboratory work, safety should always be put in the first priority. As such, we have designed our lab work and safety strategy very seriously.

Safety Issues for Materials and Products

As our project is to build a series of ‘population-control’ devices in Escherichia coli, the biological and chemical materials may bring about certain safety issues regarding the individual safety of researchers, the public and environment safety. So several safety issues have been considered as follows:

1, Would the materials used in your project and/or your final product pose:

a. Risks to the safety and health of team members or others in the lab?

b. Risks to the safety and health of the general public if released by design or accident?

c. Risks to environmental quality if released by design or accident?

d. Risks to security through malicious misuse by individuals, groups or states?

a. No. Parts, devices and strains of model organisms in the 2011 XMU-China iGEM team will not pose any risks to the safety and health of team members or others in the lab when operated correctly. Model organisms used in our project include Escherichia coli Top10, BL21 and DH5α. They are non-virulent strains which are commonly used in microbiology laboratories.

b. No. Our new BioBrick parts (or devices) are observed not to be infectious, toxic, nor pathogenic. And we believe that they would not pose any threat to the health and safety of the general public. Even though, to avoid any potential hazards, we strictly followed the BSL-1 requirements. All biological wastes and equipments that have physical contacts with biological samples are bleached (optional) and autoclaved before disposal and reuse.

c. Yes. Our BioBrick parts (or devices) might raise the resistance of Escherichia coli to certain antibiotics. As we are not conducting large-scale proliferation of microorganisms, the leakage of the bacteria cultured for testing experiments would not have significant impact on the general safety of the environment. However, we strictly follow the BSL-1 requirements as mentioned above and avoid any release of the BioBrick parts (or devices) or microorganisms to the environment.

d. No. Any malicious misuse of BioBrick parts (or devices) or microorganisms might have great threat to security. To avoid these potential hazards, we have carefully handled our experiments, stored our materials and products. Human error and poor technique can compromise the best of safeguards to protect the researcher and cause unpredicted risks to both human and environment. For this reason, we have conducted a continuous training in safety measures for all 2011 XMU-China team members and other laboratory workers in our lab.

Biosafety Rules and Institutions

a. Under what biosafety provisions will / do you operate?

Ministry of Environment Protection, P.R. China and our Institution have both established guidelines on biosafety and we carry out our experiments and evaluate biosafety issues in our iGEM project strictly according to the Chinese Pathogenic Microbiology Laboratory Bio-safety Regulations, 2004, PR China.

To learn more about the Nation Biosafety Office:

National Biosafety Office [1]

To learn more about the regulations:

Biosafety regulation on pathogenic microbes [2]

b. Will / did you receive any biosafety and/or lab training before beginning your project?

Yes. As mentioned above, all 2011 XMU-iGEM team members have received a continuous training on biosafety measures. We are introduced to the code of practice and to the local guidelines, including the safety and operations manual. Information on safe methods for highly hazardous procedures is also included in the training.

Suggestions to Future iGEM Competitions

As iGEM teams are from different countries which may have different regulations for biosaftey. So we recommend that the IGEM organization collect information and make standard biosafety rules for basic synthetic biology experiments in this competition which all the teams could obey.


[1]U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories, Fifth Edition, US Government Printing Office, 2007

[2]World Health Organization, Laboratory biosafety manual, Third edition,2004