Let’s take a bet- who thinks the US customs will let me board a plane with 10 different strains of organisms in my bag? They’re harmless bacteria- some yeast isolated from beer, lactobacillus from yogurt, kambucha, spirulina (algae), slime mold, mycelium, and 4 bacteria that produce different colored pigments- and nothing online says I’m not allowed to, but unless any of these TSA agents are trained biologists I can foresee a bit of friction. Oh well, I guess it’s time for an adventure!
These 10 strains were given to me as part of my training to coordinate the Biohacker Academy in September. We will be using these strains, in addition to several others, to start tinkering with life and it’s various properties! We learned which basic chemicals we needed for the lab, how to make the media for these various strains, and how to plate these various samples for distribution to our participants.
Importantly, however, we focused on the issue of biosafety. We learned about the various safety equipment we needed, key safety protocols, proper disposal of chemical, biological, and other potentially hazardous waste. This was an extremely important session today because it helped highlight one of the main concerns that the community holds towards biohacker laboratories- the fear of contamination that might harm the environment, other people, and ourselves.
This talk of safety, combined with the specific strains I received today (most of which, you might notice, are derived from different foods), brings up an interesting question I’d like to pose to you:
How do you feel about conducting food based workshops such as beer brewing, mushroom growing, or cheese/yogurt culturing in our laboratory, given appropriate sterilization procedures, of course? Please comment below to participate in this discussion. I believe this will be a main discussion point for our next meetup group next Wednesday, June 17th.