Tartu-TUIT iGEM team

For the last two years, we have been happy to support our local iGEM team from Tartu University Institute of Technology (Tartu TUIT IGEM Team), and both years they have won gold medals! So proud and happy to be part of their success story!

iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) is a competition that gives students the opportunity to push the boundaries of synthetic biology by tackling everyday issues facing the world.

Supporting them is important to us since with this small step we are helping to build a strong scientific community next to us. Solis BioDyne is located in Tartu - quite a small city centered around Tartu University. Our team has been international from the beginning but most of our laboratory staff have studied at Tartu University and we are happy to have a very strong connection with the university regarding product development and testing new solutions on real projects. 

Tartu University Institute of Technology iGEM team projects have been really fun to follow and the energy they put into their work is unbelievable. Within the project, the team conducts experiments, build mathematical models, raise awareness in the local community through workshops and public events, and engage the public in synthetic biology. 

This year’s project is called SPARKLE (Solar-Powered ARtificially Knitted Lipid Enclosures) and it tries to find a solution for convenient and affordable bio-production of lipids (biodiesel, high-value lipids, etc.) in yeasts. To increase the competitiveness compared to chemical synthesis the team engineered the yeast to accumulate high lipid levels by using light both as an inductor for a metabolic switch and as an electron source. The yeast is designed to self-lyse after production. First extra copies of lipid synthesizing enzymes controlled by light-inducible promoters are introduced. Next, cells are coated with light-absorbing nanoparticles to enable the cells to use light as an electron source for NADPH formation – a critical cofactor for lipid synthesis. This leads to increased carbon flux to lipid production. To ease the product extraction, the cells are designed to autolyze by induction of cell wall degrading glucanases that are targeted to cell wall via anchor proteins.

Since this year the big gathering of all the teams around the world (The Giant Jamboree) was canceled we used the picture from last year where our team is with Randy Rettberg - the President of iGEM.