The Yokohama-based Bioinformatics and Systems Engineering (BASE) division of Japan’s RIKEN research institute has launched its own take on the iGEM genetic-engineering competition, Nature reports.
In contrast to iGEM, which has no restrictions on entries other than they should use synthetic biology techniques and deliver any newly created genes to the BioBrick Registry, the GenoCon competition has a definite objective. For the one that has just launched, the aim is to transform thale cress (good old Arabidopsis thaliana) so that it digests the pollutant formaldehyde.
Masayuki Yamamura told Nature industrial groups don’t want to get involved with the BioBrick Registry because of the registry’s open-access provisions, which prevents patents being filed on genes that go into it. Participants in GenoCon will be able to keep sequences they use secret.