May’s DIYBio meeting was full of exciting stuff, with the first results of the microbe map, as well as lots of discussion on what we wanted to do next.
Having taken swabs from a variety of bus stops around Manchester at the Swabfest, a large part of the 18th May meeting was spent looking at the agar plates, counting how many microbial colonies had grown and marvelling at the variety of colours and shapes of moulds and bacteria! There were very clear differences between different samples, with some devoid of life and others almost completely covered in bugs.
Representatives from each of the swab teams made a count of their colonies, and added these results to the main list. We then had a discussion about how we’re going to work on displaying the data – this will be done over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for the results! If you want to help with the data analysis, or are an expert on visualisation, then feel free to join the mailing list where most of the discussions will be taking place.
As well as looking at the swabfest results, we also had an update from some of our members who represented Manchester DIYBio at a meeting of all the European DIYBio groups. This meeting, as well as being a chance to see what other groups are working on, included discussions on deveoping a ‘code’ for DIYBio groups, including ethical considerations and standards of working. It will be interesting to see the outcomes of this meeting when they are publicised, and it was a great opportunity for us to be represented in the international community.
Also mentioned was our presentation at FutureEverything where we introduced delegates to Manchester DIYBio. This was a great event and very well attended, and lots of interesting questions were asked by the audience about our activities.
Towards the end of the meeting we concentrated on planning the next stages of the project. It was suggested that next month we should have a joint meeting with the HACman (Manchester hacker group) who might be interested in helping us out with some of the more ‘kit building’ side of DIYBio. One interesting idea was that if we did build ‘home made’ versions of equipment such as gel boxes (for doing DNA fingerprinting) we could test our versions against the ‘real’ ones in the MMU labs and see if the results were comparable, in terms of resolution, etc..
We also spent some time discussing potential summer projects, so that we can do some actual science as well as building things. Ideas which came up included selectively breeding snails, creating our own yoghurt, planning for an ‘Art of Biology’ exhibition, and a microbe-inspired picnic. Again, if you want to get involved in these kinds of projects come along to our next meeting (15th June) or join the mailing list!