Throwback to last summer when BMG LABTECH supported young aspiring scientific entrepreneurs through iGEM

June 12, 2020

iGEM is a worldwide scientific entrepreneurship competition that supports the next generation of synthetic biology innovators. In 2019, three hundred plus teams competed in a Giant Jamboree in Boston for medals and prizes, showcasing their work. BMG LABTECH proudly supported various teams, including three from different UK universities: team Notox from Nottingham, team Cutiful from Manchester and team ProQorum from Oxford. All three teams won a gold medal at the Giant Jamboree in Boston, our sincere congratulations to everyone who was involved. 

Dr Manoja Rasamanikkam
Application Specialist

Safer food packaging

Notox from the University of Nottingham engineered a non-toxic strain of bacteria closely related to Clostridium botulinum, the cause of foodborne botulism. The synthesised bacterium produces an acetone reporter product. If present as a detectable substance, this can be used as a biomarker, making this model suitable to simulate the presence of live C. botulinum. For manufacturers, the use of this strain of bacterium could possibly replace the current method of food packaging testing where live C. botulinum is used, making for a safer and more accessible method for both large and small food laboratories. In addition to the gold award received, the Notox team were also awarded with a runner up position for their entry within the ‘Food and Nutrition’ category of the competition. 

Natural hair colouring

Manchester´s Cutiful team engineered bacteria that could bind to the out strands of hair and naturally secrete colouring. The additional potential to produce reparative proteins and scent could also maintain healthy hair and replace and reduce use of polluting and damaging hair dye chemicals. The team were able to demonstrate proof of principle showing adherence of the bacteria to the hair and production of the chromophores. They were also able to show that these bacteria would survive standard hair washing and chlorinated water.

An alternative to antibiotics

The ProQuorum project team in Oxford sought to engineer gut bacteria able to detect and kill C. difficile, a leading source of hospital and nursing home-acquired infections in the developed world. Currently, the only cure is to use antibiotics that whilst effective on the pathogen are detrimental to healthy gut bacteria. The new strain of super probiotic bacteria would selectively identify C. difficile and kill it in the gut by producing a C. difficile specific endolysin. This would act to break down the peptidoglycan wall, causing cell lysis and death while not harming the natural gut bacteria as antibiotics would.

The support we provide

BMG LABTECH’s support for the teams included either providing a loan microplate reader for use in the project with training or providing training and technical support for new users using existing BMG LABTECH microplate readers. Training covered the use of the BMG LABTECH Reader Control and MARS data analysis software and included application support throughout the project. Where a group did not require a loan instrument, BMG LABTECH also supplied microplates and other related products such as plate seals to assist those projects. 


Here is what some of the teams had to say about BMG LABTECH:


"An iGEM project is no small undertaking for any group of aspiring undergraduates but it would be impossible without a little help. Our sponsors made our entire project possible through their support and expertise. BMG LABTECH were incredibly generous in providing hands-on, expert support for us to gather data with their FLUOstar Omega microplate reader. This year our project aimed to develop a novel therapeutic for C. difficile infections. Our genetically engineered Lactobacillus reuteri was designed to both detect and selectively destroy the C. difficile bacteria, preserving the rest of the precious gut microbiome. Thanks to the BMG LABTECH FLUOstar Omega microplate reader, we were able to perform absorbance and fluorescence intensity measurements on our samples. The instrument was predominantly used to monitor bacterial growth and protein expression by fluorescence intensity of our cultures which was particularly convenient with the plate reader because it can shake and incubate the cultures at the desired temperature between measurements. Hence, we were able to obtain data on our cultures in a well-controlled environment over a long period of time (8-24 hours). Moreover, the plate reader was utilised to measure protein concentration of our purified samples. Additionally, the easy-to-use control software allowed us to work quickly and efficiently in our lab and the MARS analysis tool enabled us to export our data in the desired format to process it later. With the kind support of BMG LABTECH, who also provided 96-well plates for our measurements, we were able to learn and use this powerful instrument to generate high-quality data for our project. We are extremely grateful for the support of BMG LABTECH without whom we would not have been so successful, winning both a gold medal and a nomination for Best Therapeutics project. We hope this rewarding relationship continues to support further Oxford iGEM teams, to produce even further success."


Natasha Cooke from Oxford University


"Our project aimed to create a safe strain of the infamous C. botulinum food pathogen which would express a reporter gene instead of the deadly neurotoxin. After months in the lab engineering our safe surrogate C. sporogenes strain, we needed to prove it could mimic neurotoxin production in C. botulinum. To test this, we used the CLARIOstar to measure the expression of our two fluorescent reporters (FAST and GusA). Although both reporters are fluorescent, they act in very different ways, therefore the conditions and length of time needed to measure their fluorescence differed greatly. The support and training given to us by BMG LABTECH allowed us to efficiently use the CLARIOstar to gather the necessary data. This enabled us to progress much further in our project during the short time period than we expected! The CLARIOstar was vital to the success of our project. It allowed us to gather the data needed to prove the efficacy of our proof of concept and undoubtedly led to our team receiving runners up in the ‘Food and Nutrition’ category and a Gold award in the iGEM Giant Jamboree. Similarly, being trained to use the latest equipment used in molecular biology research has given us all an advantage when pursuing jobs in this field."


Saniya Crouch from Nottingham University


BMG LABTECH are looking forward to supporting further teams with entries for iGEM projects in 2020. Teams across the UK and IRE interested in sponsorship for a project, please contact us at