Museumnacht/Museumnight IGEM

Bacterial art and weightless garden cress at the Museumnacht

Last Saturday, the Museumnacht got hold of the city of Leiden. Numerous museums opened their doors through the night and organized spectacular activities. Visitors of the Leiden Observatory were able to make their own living art with bacteria, discover what microgravity does to garden cress and see what kind of bacteria are swimming around in our ditches, using a laser.

This was all organized by students of Leiden University, that participate in the worldwide synthetic biology competition iGEM. The Leiden iGEM team has developed a project that helps the future colonization of the planet Mars. Martian soil contains the toxic compound perchlorate, which makes it impossible to grow healthy crops. By building a bacterium that can convert this compound into oxygen, the team will contribute to future space explorations!

Besides the lab work, the students aim to teach everyone about bacteria and the endless possibilities created by modern DNA techniques, a.o. at festivals such as the Museumnacht and the ‘Nacht van Kunst en Kennis’, which will be held later this year. More than 200 people enjoyed the activities of the enthusiastic team, during which the audience was able to create their own bio-art using living bacteria. To show how simulated microgravity affects the growth of garden cress, a  Random Positioning Machine of Airbus Defence and Space was on display.

If you’ve happened to miss the Leiden iGEM team: check their Facebook and Twitter for all follow-up activities and their mission to Mars. They‘d be delighted to welcome you next time!

Watch the time-lapse of iGEM’s Museumnacht below: