The Tsinghua-TFL team, under the guidance of Professor Pan Junmin, includes 10 undergraduate students and 3 doctoral candidates from the School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University. The team aims to use the synthetic biology transformation of photosynthetic model chassis organisms – microalgae, with a focus on constructing a highly efficient Chlamydomonas reinhardtii carbon-fixing and starch-producing factory (StarChlamy) to offer a new source of food, reducing reliance on arable land.


Furthermore, the team, sponsored by Tsinghua Life Sciences alumni company, Protoga Biotech Co., Ltd., is tapping into a diverse support structure provided by Protoga Biotech including lab facilities, production centers, and marketing resources.


Currently, the world is facing a serious land crisis, with traditional agricultural practices placing a heavy reliance on land for food crops, exacerbating the widespread issue of hunger due to the scarcity of arable land.



To address this, the Tsinghua-TFL team has proposed their solution – the construction of microalgae photobioreactor carbon fixation factory as a new source of food to reduce the reliance on arable land for food crops.


The team has targeted the metabolic pathways of starch, a major nutrient in food crops, to efficiently produce starch from microalgae and improve its quality by increasing the proportion of amylose.


Simultaneously, through synthetic biology modifications to the light reactions and Calvin cycle in the photosynthesis process of microalgae, they have increased the photosynthetic carbon fixation efficiency, thereby creating a more efficient StarChlamy.


Upon participating at the 20th International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM) final in Paris from November 2nd to 5th 2023, Tsinghua-TFL team received the Gold Award, “Best Plant Synthetic Biology” nomination, and “Best Sustainable Development Impact” nomination, capturing attention for its innovative project and outstanding research capabilities.


The iGEM competition has served as a platform for students to demonstrate innovative achievements in the field of life science and technology, leading the forefront of genetic engineering and synthetic biology. Additionally, it involves interdisciplinary collaboration with fields such as mathematics, computer science, and statistics, providing an optimal stage for extensive student exchanges.


Since 2007, the School of Life Sciences at Tsinghua University has encouraged undergraduate students to form iGEM teams. Over the past two decades, more than two hundred students have participated in this competition, achieving numerous honors. This year, the School of Life Sciences sent two teams, Tsinghua and Tsinghua-TFL, to undergo recruiting, team formation, project establishment, experimentation, and wiki construction. Ultimately, the 24 participating members worked collaboratively to deliver satisfactory results throughout this scientific and technological challenge.


Post time: Feb-28-2024