BioTech Lab

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Biotech Lab

Dave Casey

Chubby Pikachu.png

Chris LeMaire


Behind a locked door, to the left of the lobby

* PCR Your Yard (Planned)
* Agar Art (Planned)
* Sequence Yourself (Planned)

The BioTech Lab is located off the lobby. It operates at Biosafety Level 1, meaning it is suitable for work with well-characterized agents that do not cause disease in healthy humans.

Why is BioTech Important for FamiLAB?

We appear to be in a unique point in history where we can leverage our existing strengths to learn new skills to make a meaningful contribution to science and quality of life, -in our spare time.

  • Biotech is a rapidly growing multi-billion dollar industry with many parallels to the state of the computer industry in during the late 70's.
  • There are many areas where quality of life could be improved through a better understanding of biology, but there is not sufficient potential ROI to warrant development by large corporations/institutions.
    • Research funding typically goes to academic institutions and industry.
    • Historically, real innovation has comes from amateurs and hobbyists. The ability to read, write, and edit DNA is just now becoming something that is accessible at the "homebrew computer club" scale.
  • As the use of biotechnology becomes more and more a part of our lives, it is imperative that we become literate in how it works, and hands on learning in a safe environment is an ideal way to develop a deeper understanding of what is involved, and what is at stake.

Notes about BioTech Safety

We are a BSL-1 lab, so we only work with well-characterized, non-pathogenic, non-mammalian organisms. (ToDo: add info regarding our ISRB, working with FBI, EPA, etc.)

Projects We are Working On

  • DNA Barcoding workshops in which participants bring in plant, insect, or fungi samples from which DNA is extracted, amplified, and sent off for sequencing. Results are compared with existing data to either ID the specimen, or, possibly, add a new discovery to the database.
  • Participating in the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machines) Labs program by designing and implementing new "biobrick parts" that perform useful functions, and submitting them to a growing open source repository.
    • Refining a violacein production pathway in yeast to more easily produce an expensive, medically useful, and exceedingly cool looking purple pigment.
    • Creating a biobrick that implements an easy to use protein excretion tag which would facilitate measurement and large scale bioproduction of useful compounds
  • Participating in HTGAA, accepting applications now!
    • Building a relatively affordable atomic force microscope in order to verify DNA origami constructs
    • Synthetic miminal cell production of small circular peptides that may have interesting antibiotic properties
  • OpenBCI - Open-source brain-computer interface. <--- This is currently a dead project. If you think it sounds neat then be a hero and bring it back to life!!
  • Collaborating with on a 3D BioPrinter project
    • Plant Tissue Culture
  • Growing things that glow (or at least fluoresce)
    • Glowing Plant Project Beta
    • Dinoflagellates (plankton)
    • Bioluminescent bacteria
    • Green Fluorescent Protein producing baker's yeast
    • Green Fluorescent Protein excreting brewer's yeast
    • Glowing fungi
  • OpenTrons fluid handling robot (currently offsite due to space limitations).
  • Engineering e. coli strains to produce chromoproteins in more colors for Agar Art events

Current ToDo List

  • Set up temperature monitoring, and isolated lighting for glowing dinoflagellates
  • Develop better structure for DNA barcoding workshop
  • Resolve issues with temperature limits in firmware for 3D bioprinter
  • Get -80ºC freezer wiring in place and get freezer working
  • Plan for Bio Activities at Maker Faire Orlando
  • Validate silica purification methods for genomic and plasmid DNA
  • Organize Agar Art event
  • Organize with mushroom guy for a two part fungal indentification class
  • Run a line for air pressure
  • Troubleshoot temperature stability in plate incubator

Protocols and Equipment

Link to our BioTech Protocols article.

Link to our BioTech Equipment article.

Equipment Wish List

  • Nanodrop
  • Consumable items (pipette tips, plates, culture tubes, weigh boats, serological pipets, etc, etc.)
  • Multi-port, luer-lock vacuum manifold, preferably the Promega vacuum pig
  • Wheaton bottles
  • Whatcha got?

Experts and References


User:DaveCasey - Hardware design and acquisition, networking, general awesomeness
User:Gene.jacket - Genetics, molecular biology
User:CosmicAug - Mycology, plant culture

External Links

Reading list/resources:

  • Their mailing list is very active, though signal to noise varies dramatically from month to month.

Spaces we are collaborating with: