Students of the iGEM Team Stuttgart successfully competed at this year’s competition to build the best bioreactor possible for 99 euros, held by the Netzwerk Bioverfahrenstechnik in Dresden. Facing nine teams from different universities they managed to win the prize for the most innovative reactor. This marks the second time in a row that the team was able to secure a place on the podium.
The aim of the competition is to design and build a bioreactor for 99 euros that can autonomously cultivate cells for 24 hours. Comparable hardware is usually not available for less than 50k euros. This years challenge was the cultivation of Vibrio natrigens an organism characterised by a high growth rate that promises faster production of drugs or bioplastics, given appropriate modifications.
The rapid division rate and the high substrate uptake (food for the cells) poses extreme challenges for pH regulation and demands constant supply of a carbon source: too little food and the cells starve, too much and saturation symptoms occur. These and othere challenges were succesfully addressed by the students of the University of Stuttgart. In order to provide sufficient oxygen for growth they opted for a porous 3D-printed rotor with a hollow shaft that transported the air directly into the cultivation broth and to the cells. This innovative concept convinced the sponsors and was traditionally awarded by them.