Green Canaries Strike Gold for BIO
A team of UEA undergraduate students have struck Gold in the 2014 iGEM competition. Over the last week the team of 5 BIO and 1 CHE students (Jack Day, Cara Deal, Jessica Gray, Alistair Middlemiss, Steven Monsey and Mischa Spiegel) attended the conference that brings this year’s competition to a close and their project was awarded a Gold medal in the closing ceremony. This year’s project, titled the Green Canary, aimed to develop sentinel plants that will warn of the presence of plant pathogens by producing a visible signal. Reference to the term "Canary" highlights Norwich’s links to the birds, but also pays homage to the way that they were used as an early warning system - a "sentinel" - to warn of dangers in the coal mining industry.
The project was a real team effort involving researchers from across the Norwich Research Park. It emerged from ideas developed by Dr Nicola Patron, who is Head of Synthetic Biology at The Sainsbury Laboratory. Nicola acted as an adviser to this year’s team, along with Dr Mark Banfield from the John Innes Centre and Dr Richard Bowater and Dr Colwyn Thomas from BIO at UEA.
The iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition involve synthetic biology research projects undertaken by university students. UEA students have entered the competition since 2011 and this year joined more than 250 other teams from across the world.