Question 1:''Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of researcher, public or enviromental safety?'''

Purple Non sulfur Bacteria are one of the most metabolically diverse groups known in nature, they are able to grow under different conditions such as, aerobic respiration, anoxigenic photosynthesis, and anaerobic fermentation. Due to its diverse metabolism and their ability to eat aromatic compounds, these bacteria can live in hostile media such as polluted water. Despite all these features, work with these microorganisms in lab conditions is very laborious; especially since its growth medium is a complex mix of metals and vitamins.

The risk in PNSB management in the lab is very low since they are non-pathogenic bacteria. R. sphaeroides and R. palustris┬┤ grow rates are quite slow, thus, our genetic systems do not represent a public safety menace since they are highly specific. Besides, we have designed these systems for its specific functioning in purple photosynthetic bacteria. Nevertheless, it is very important to take special care during our wetlab work, taking into account the basic precautions and methods commonly used in microbiology.

Our project aims to build two regulation systems, and introduce them into Rhodopseudomonas palustris. Since PCR isolation of the five genes that form the system is extremely difficult, gene synthesis technology provided by Genescript was used instead for the obtainment of these BioBricks. All our biobricks

Question 2: '''Do any of the new BioBrick parts (or devices) that you made this year raise any safety issues?'''

No, our BioBricks parts came from Rhodobacter sphaeroides, this bacteria is non-pathogenic and it can be worked in a Biosafety level 1 laboratory, based on the CDC Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (CDC, 2007). The functionality of our parts do not produce any dangerous compound, we are working in gene expression control. Furthermore, we used BioBricks from iGEM distribution for all our assemblies, for example GFP as reporter, these parts do not represent a biological risk.

Question 3: '''Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution? If no, which specific biosafety rules or guidelines do you have to consider in your country?'''

No, a Biosafety committee must be integrated, by a multidisciplinary group of members among Research Centers, Industries and Universities. This committee should provide expert advice on laboratory, biosafety and biosecurity issues related to research and other academic activities.

The objectives of this group should be:

  • Plan, design and implement the necessary instruments for biosafety risk assessment.
  • Establish, disseminate and analyze safety approaches in handling chemicals, genetically modified organisms and potentially infectious pathogens that allow us to make decisions for users in order to minimize potential health risks.
  • Conduct briefings and feedback sessions with the actors involved in biosafety.
  • Propound consistent Biosecurity regulations, which allow the development and promotion of basic and applied research.

    Particular problems should be evaluated case by case for the analysis of their solutions, this analysis should also include assessment of the risks of alternative technological options for coping with the specific problem to which the GMO was designed. And finally, it is important to review other laws; this will help to strengthen biosecurity aspects of other organisms that are not GMOs.

    In Mexico CIBIOGEM, which is a governmental organism, was created to regulate biosafety issues mainly related with transgenic organisms and GMOs. The mentioned committee should work along this institution in order to establish a synthetic biology approach to biosafety.

    Question 4: Do you have any other ideas how to deal with safety issues that could be useful for future iGEM competitions? How could parts, devices and systems be made even safer through biosafety engineering?

    As a part of our human practices work, we are trying to implement the Quality Function Deployment tool in order to answer the most important questions in terms of safety and biosecurity aplied in Synthetic Biology, also we presented this work in the Fourth International Biosafety and Biosecurity Symposium (SIBB), with great results. The relevance of this work is that through a thorough analysis of the proposed goals and needs of our work, we are going to be able to make different proposals that support the development of synthetic biology-based projects in Mexico


    Rhodofactory 2012