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BioBrick-A-Bot: Sharing and Collaboration in Automated BioBrick Assembly

(New Approach to Human Practice in Synthetic Biology)


Ways to Facilitate Collaboration

BioBrick-A-Bot is a prototype of a automated BioBrick DNA assembling robot (hereafter called ‘bot’). We have demonstrated with a proof-of-principle that it works. This is only the first step. Once this is done, other iGEM teams can build and customize their own, inexpensive bots. Collaboration is made extremely easy because of the 3 design philosophies below: replicability, interchangeability and extensibility.


The cost of building your own bots is about US $700. The Lego Parts are easily accessible. We will provide hardware construction instructions in a document form, so that iGEM teams can follow and build ALPHA and PHI modules. We will provide RobotC source codes to iGEM teams too. So, It is easy to replicate BioBrick-A-Bot Model C that we show in the Proof-of-Principle Demo.


Interchangeability is the next logical step to collaboration and sharing. We have shown a proof-of-principle that it is possible to build two different physical implementations of ALPHA module, with different geometric configuration and physical dimensions, and still run the same software. Hence various other iGEM teams are encourage to customize their own variants of the ALPHA modules. These ALPHA modules should work seamlessly with the software provided. iGEM teams are also encourage to check in new ALPHA implementation in the registry, so as to facilitate sharing and collaborations.


The next phase in collaboration is actually extensibility. This would mean adding new functionalities to BioBrick-A-Bot, by developing new Modules. Currently, we have developed only 2 Modules, called ALPHA and PHI. We planned to build a third Module called MU as described in V2.0 of the specification. Other teams are also encouraged to build and share additional BioBrick-a-Bot Modules as well. In the next version of BioBrick-A-Bot, we will implement Single-Master-Multiple-Slaves Synchronization, to support three or more Modules, with ALPHA as the master.

Collaboration with other iGEM Team

Raik's Barcelona Team

One of our external team advisors, Raik Gruenberg, is interested to start a new team in Barcelona next year and replicate the existing ‘bot’ that we have. This is a good first step. Raik has also written some procedures for performing fusion assemblies. We will attempt to collaborate with his team and get our ‘bot’ to automate the procedure above too.

University of Washington Wet-Lab Team

We have also presented BioBrick-A-Bot to the University of Washington Wet-Lab Team (See Picture Gallery ). Next year we could look into using one of our ‘bots’ to automate some of the mundane tasks in BioBrick assemblies.

The Vision of Future Collaboration

We built BioBrick-A-Bot V1.0 as a prototype and provide a proof-of-principle demonstration that it worked. V1.0 will however, not have the full range of functionalities of a commercial liquid handling robot. V1.0 will be made up of 2 LegoRoboBrick modules, ALPHA and PHI, mounted on a chassis called BETA. We will provide construction details and software so that other iGEM team can replicate and customize their own 'bot's.

In our next version, BioBrick-A-Bot V2.0, we will provide 3 LegoRoboBrick modules, ALPHA, PHI and MU. We will also support user-defined LegoRoboBrick modules too. We provide the mechanism where other iGEM teams can collaborate together to replicate, interchange and extend LegoRoboBricks. Many iGEM teams can contribute and share both Hardware Construction and Software Programs for LegoRoboBrick modules in a Registry, much like the "Registry of Standard Biological Parts". Our vision will be to make the technologies of creating and sharing 'bots' easily available, replacing labour intensive manual work, and cost intensive machines.