Team:UNIK Copenhagen


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Have you ever wondered if there was a better way to target cancer cells?
Find a sustainable alternative to batteries?
Or visualize hidden forces in the world around us?
We worked on creating such a biological platform using organelles consisting of tiny magnetic crystals housed inside a lipid membrane, known as magnetosomes. These are naturally found in so-called magnetotactic bacteria that use these organelles to orientate themselves in the earth’s magnetic field. In our project we make a proof of concept fusing a fluorescent protein to the membrane of the magnetosome. Through this we open the way for using magnetosomes in all sorts of exciting new applications, like for example targeted drug delivery, developing biological batteries or creating magnetic paint.
You will find more information on our project page.


The UNIK Copenhagen team’s home base is the University of Copenhagen, the biggest university in Denmark and one of the oldest of Northern Europe. UNIK is the university’s interdisciplinary center for synthetic biology which hosts and supervises our team. 2013 is the third year in a row an iGEM team from Copenhagen is competing for a medal at the European jamboree. This year our team consists of 11 curious undergraduate and graduate students coming from different areas inside the field of science.


Magnetotaxic bacteria is the core of the 2013 iGEM team representing the University of Copenhagen. In nature, these bacteria exert an extraordinary ability to coordinate themselves in relation to the earth’s magnetic field. This ability is mediated by organelle-like structures (magnetosomes) lining the inner surface of the cytoplasmic membrane. Significant amounts of Magnetite (Fe3O4) also accumulate here, thus making enrichment of these bacteria possible by using a simple magnet.

Clearly, such magnificent abilities raise ideas and opportunities for developing novel and progressive bacterial applications. Choosing from a range of somewhat diverse projects, we have decided to study the formation of the magnetosomes. Hereby, we hope to be able to suggest a strategy for new types of selections markers based on magnetism. This will hopefully stand as a convenient alternative to the general standard of working with antibiotic resistance for selections markers. During the project we hope to succeed in performing a series of proof-of-concept experiments, whilst also attaching the importance of public outreach. In this way, we hope to be able to display the fascinating world of applied bioscience to the general public.
You will find more information on our project page.


In synthetic biology, biomedicine, chemistry, biophysics, nanosciences and genetic engineering combine together. The final aim is to create new biological systems or re-design existing systems to build new non existing functions. In order to achieve this, synthetic biology follows rational engineering processes based on highly characterized genetic parts, the so-called BioBricks. The resulting new devices display functions which lead the way to breakthrough innovations that both have positive effect on our everyday life and push further ahead the boundaries of our scientific knowledge about the complexity of life.


The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) is an annual competition in synthetic biology organized by MIT. The competition is open to motivated undergraduate students who want to work in a team and develop a project of their own exclusive design. The teams are provided with a kit of biological parts from the Registry of Standard Biological Parts to create new functional biological devices in living cells. In turn, new parts built by each team can be submitted to the Registry. The project is developed mainly over the summer break and will culminate with the presentation of team results at the Regional Jamboree. A few lucky and talented teams will go onto the World Championship Jamboree. This experience is extremely stimulating for the students that have the chance to improve their skills and knowledge working on different aspects of the project as well as making new friends.