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Full Documentation of the project on OpenWetWare

Project Summary

  • We have used the traditional engineering approach to build a stable and flexible molecular oscillator
  • Our original design relies on population dynamics and was inspired by the Lotka-Volterra predation model
  • Every step of the development cycle (Specifications, Design, Modelling, Implementation, Testing/Validation) has been fully documented on our OWW site


  • Derivation of the complete dynamical model, describing the main biochemical reactions driving our oscillator
  • Full theoretical analysis and detailed computer simulations, validating our design with regard to our specifications
  • Successful building and characterization of functional parts, providing the building blocks for the final oscillator

Main Project

Oscillator Icon.PNG
Engineering a Molecular Predation Oscillator

For building our biological oscillator, the engineering cycle below was followed.

Click on each of the stages of the engineering cycle below in order to find out about the different stages & aspects of the project.

1) Specifications:

  • Stable and robust oscillations
  • Controllable frequency/amplitude
  • Generic and modular

2) Design:

  • Mimics predator-prey dynamics based on the Lotka-Volterra model

3) Modelling:

4) Implementation:

  • All parts designed and modelled
  • 4 functional & 5 intermediate submitted to the Registry

5) Testing/ Validation:

  • Successful characterization of sub-components.

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IGEM IMPERIAL DevCycle FullSystem.png
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Secondary Projects

PoPs Blocker Biological to Electrical Interface

As a method of controlling the activation of the positive-feedback loop in our predator-prey based oscillator, we successfully created this part, which can be used as a general Pops Blocker:

  • This part is placed downstream of a promoter and prevents any Pops from the promoter passing through this part
  • When an accompanying Cre Recombinase plasmid becomes activated, the enzyme produced will permanently cut a section of DNA from the plasmid containing this part
  • Only then, the polymerase can pass through this part and transcribe downstream genes.

We also worked on a Biosensor for measuring AHL concentrations in order to establish a Biological to Electrical Interface this summer.

  • Using an enzyme to hydrolize the lactone AHL would result in a local change in pH
  • Measuring the change in pH gives a measurement of how much AHL is present.

Our Contributions to the Registry

Part Logo Description Link to registry Built Tested Characterized Sequenced Sent
Final Constructs (!) Favorite Part
J37015.PNG Final Prey Cell (!) J37015 YES YES Pending YES YES
J37027.png Cre/Lox Prey Control (!) J37027 YES YES YES YES YES
Test Constructs
J37016.PNG Final Polycistronic Predator Cell Test Construct (!) J37016 YES YES YES YES YES
J37020.png Predator Cell, pLux Transfer Function (two promoters) J37020 YES YES NO NO YES
Intermediate Parts
J37019.PNG AHL induced LuxR generator (for predator cell) J37019 YES N/A N/A YES YES
J37033.PNG RBS + LuxR J37033 YES N/A N/A YES YES
J37034.PNG Prey Cell Intermediate J37034 YES N/A N/A YES YES
J37032.png LuxR + GFP J37032 YES N/A N/A YES YES

Our Open Documentation

  • 300+ Pages of documentation on OWW, 100's of Photographs, Extensive Modelling, Lab Notebook and much more!

The Team and Acknowledgements


The Imperial College iGEM team and advisors on the terrace of the Biochemistry building



  • European Commission
  • Imperial College Deputy Rector's Fund
  • Imperial College Faculty of Engineering
  • Imperial College Faculty of Natural Sciences

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