Team ZJU-China Clinches Gold at 2017 iGEM Competition


ZJU-China, a multi-disciplinary undergraduate team from Zhejiang University, has brought home a gold medal from this year’s International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition held in Boston on November 9-13. This is the fifth time the team has clinched gold at iGEM.

Supervised by Professor CHEN Ming in ZJU’s College of Life Sciences, the team comprises 14 undergraduate students from six colleges/schools, namely the College of Life Sciences, the Chu Kochen Honors College, the School of Medicine, the College of Agriculture and Biotechnology, the College of Computer Science and Technology, and the Department of Physics.

“Taking part in iGEM competition is like joining a marathon and the biggest competition is with myself,” said team leader JIANG Qianjin. “I am not looking to follow others or pull them down. I just keep testing my own boundaries.”

“The iGEM is a tough journey that requires passion,” deputy team leader YANG Junbo said, while looking back on the competition.

Trichoderma is a genus of fungi that has been used as biocontrol agents for many years. Although these species are hard-wired for their ability to antagonize phytopathogen, like mycoparasitism, bacteriolysis, antibiotic production etc., the practical application remains limited. Named “the Guardian Trichoderma”, ZJU-China’s project attempts to address this problem in a synthetic biological way.

Through their efforts, the team has devised certain hardware which is marked by its superb information interactivity, clear target, expandability and low costs of human and financial resources. The guardian is able to protect plants from phytopathogen, nematodes, or even herbivores.

iGEM began in January 2003 as an independent study course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where students developed biological devices to make cells blink. This course became a summer competition with 5 teams in 2004 and continued to grow to 13 teams in 2005; it expanded to 300 teams in 2016, reaching 42 countries and over 5,000 participants.

iGEM runs three main programs: the iGEM Competition—an international competition for students interested in the field of synthetic biology; the Labs Program—a program for academic labs to use the same resources as the competition teams; and the Registry of Standard Biological Parts—a growing collection of genetic parts use for building biological devices and systems.

iGEM 2017 hosted 337 international, multidisciplinary teams who are eager to share and celebrate their work from 42 countries and regions.