The Bento Lab

Bethan Wolfenden

This is a presentation given on 20 January, 2016, at the Open Tools and Infrastructure for Biology 2016 held at Newcastle University.

The Registry of Standard Biological Parts isn’t necessarily very user friendly (e.g. to newcomers), but the actual parts that are inside the registry are exciting. What she noticed with the Registry, is that unless you were an academic or associated with iGEM, it wasn’t easy to get a hold of these biological parts. In 2012 they investigated ways to give the public access to biobricks. https://biohackspace.org (@londonbiohack) was a part of this effort. Their work was summarized in Wired magazine. See also hackteria.org.

The Bento Lab is an affordable, user-friendly biotechnology laboratory. You should then be able to connect it to your laptop. Their first prototype was a “biolab in a suitcase” (Darwin toolbox). Now they have a functional 3kg DNA analysis lab. It has gel electrophoresis, PCR and a centrifuge. With it, they’ve demonstrated how you might go about doing lab work related to, e.g. the horsemeat in burgers scandal. Other ways to use it might include wildlife sampling (e.g. mushrooms), flavor identification, science competitions etc. Other examples: beer decoded (analysing yeast strains from beer). Helps people explore what might be possible when the technology is less of a barrier.

Please note that this post is merely my notes on the presentation. I may have made mistakes: these notes are not guaranteed to be correct. Unless explicitly stated, they represent neither my opinions nor the opinions of my employers. Any errors you can assume to be mine and not the speaker’s. I’m happy to correct any errors you may spot – just let me know!

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