Team:KU Leuven/Project/DataPage


Revision as of 23:33, 4 October 2013 by LaurensDeBacker (Talk | contribs)


Secret garden

Congratulations! You've found our secret garden! Follow the instructions below and win a great prize at the World jamboree!

  • A video shows that two of our team members are having great fun at our favourite company. Do you know the name of the second member that appears in the video?
  • For one of our models we had to do very extensive computations. To prevent our own computers from overheating and to keep the temperature in our iGEM room at a normal level, we used a supercomputer. Which centre maintains this supercomputer? (Dutch abbreviation)
  • We organised a symposium with a debate, some seminars and 2 iGEM project presentations. An iGEM team came all the way from the Netherlands to present their project. What is the name of their city?

Now put all of these in this URL:, (loose the brackets and put everything in lowercase) and follow the very last instruction to get your special jamboree prize!

tree ladybugcartoon

Welcome to our data page! Here we will summarize everything we achieved this summer. Of course, if you want a more extensive explanation you should check out the corresponding wiki page.

Ultimately our project aims to reduce crop loss due to aphid infestations. With an environmental project like ours, the computer is our best friend: through modelling and prediction algorithms we can reduce the real costs of field tests. Moreover, as iGEM team we were unable to conduct a field experiment for our BanAphids during this summer.
Our first step in the modelling was to predict the effect of our pheromones on the environment and the ecosystem through a series of modelling steps. You can find this in our ecological model page. The pheromones E-β-farnesene and methyl salicylate will not only affect the environment but also the bacterial cell itself. To figure out the impact of our system on our E. coli we performed a Flux Balance Analysis. Once we knew that our bacteria could handle the production of the pheromones we tried to predict the exact production amounts and find the rate limiting steps. Here our goal was also to feed wet-lab data into our algorithms. Finally, to optimise the impact of the released pheromones on the aphids and the ladybugs, we designed an oscillating transcription factor network to regulate their production. This oscillator also communicates between cells, enforcing the oscillating rhythm onto the whole colony.
Summarized, these algorithms allow us to model our system from the cellular metabolism throughout to the environmental impact. Based on our models, we adapted the actual building of the system towards the most effective circuit. Finally, our mathematical predictions will provide significant benefits once we prepare our E. coligy for field tests.


Two companies specialized in insects were very interested in our project. They invited us to perform experiments at their facilities. These experiments proved that methyl salicylate not only attracts predators but also activates & protects the plant against aphids. They also proved that aphids are driven away by methyl salicylate.

As a result of our unique collaboration between philosophers and scientists within our team, we formulated several new approaches to ethical and philosophical considerations. The best example is the descriptive evaluation in which all team members and supervisors were interviewed about their ethical beliefs. This bottom-up collaboration between students is a new starting point for approaching human practices within the iGEM competition. We also explained why participants should inform the general public using the ideas of philosopher Hannah Arendt and we examined the responsability of synthetic biologists using the ideas of philosopher Hans Jonas. This is not only a first time in the iGEM competition, but has also never been done in the scientific literature!

To make sure that we have a product that is worth to be launched we asked Biobest & pcfruit why they were so interested in the BanAphids. We also asked farmers whether they would use our BanAphids and the results were definitely positive!

We organized a symposium for the general public for which we also invited the other BeNeLux teams to present their project. We hope that one day this will become a yearly tradition in the iGEM competition.
We went to schools to teach them about synthetic biology. For this we made our very own Plexiglas "biobricks" which the students can use to work on excercises and we made a 3D-bacterial model, which gives the students an idea of what a bacterium looks like