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WORK > 2017 > Rare Endophyte Collectors Club [AMS]

The Rare Endophyte Collectors Club: Amsterdam is a chapter of the DIY research initiative whose goal is to locate and identify endophytes from local plants. The Center created this Endophyte.Club workshop as part of the Hackers & Designers Summer Academy 2017: On and Off the Grid.


At the Rare Endophyte Collectors Club (RECC) biological hobbyists meet to identify, discuss and trade information about new, rare and hard to access microorganisms. The race is on: who will get to unlock, collect and share the secrets of the microbiome era?

Endophytes are the microorganisms, especially fungi, that live inside of plants. The relationship between an endophyte and its host plant is not well understood, but some of these microorganisms are believed to enhance host growth and nutrient acquisition, as well as improve the plant’s ability to tolerate abiotic stresses. Researchers around the world are isolating novel endophytes to investigate their potential agricultural or even pharmaceutical applications.

Participants in the two day Rare Endophyte Collectors Club: AMS workshop got hands-on experience in this field of research by collecting plants, learning about DIY bio methods, setting up the experiment, and watching their endophytes grow. We also debated and discussed the process of discovering, naming, and owning organisms in contemporary scientific research and the how and why of patenting ones findings. Attendees were given a Field Notebook at the beginning and ended the workshop by creating a “newsletter” zine. The Summer Academy ended with an exhibition which including an Endophyte display and demo.

See more about the Rare Endophyte Collectors Club

On and Off the Grid:

What if biotechnology was hackable and accessible to all? It wouldn’t need to be anything fancy, just groups of hobbyists experimenting with what they might do with biology that is interesting. Just like in the early days of computing most biotechnology happens in large laboratories, and the experiments that are pursued are chosen because they are deemed to be profitable or worthy. And just like in computing, the early purveyors of mainframes as profit boxes or war machines missed the future as it oozed in the society around them.

The Rare Endophyte Collectors Club is an attempt to do something interesting with biotechnology off the grid with hobbyists and curiosity. What are the microbes that live inside of plants, how do they act, and what might they do if we moved them over there instead? We are not making any promises, but endophytes might be useful as bio-fertilizer and biopesticides. That could help reduce our need to live on the industrial chemical grid.

Getting off the grid means creating a new infrastructure for doing biology, agriculture and food that does not require petrochemical inputs and revitalizes the soils, water and air that surround us. But it starts with a new way of seeing the world. Looking for endophytes is a new way of seeing.

Special thanks to Hackers & Designers, De Ruimte, Mediamatic, and the participants of HDSA2017.

The Hackers & Designers Summer Academy 2017 saw a collection of designers, artists, software developers, researches, and scientists from all over the world participating in going on & off the grid:

Abel Elkaar (NL) Amanda Lewis (USA) Arjan Adriaanse (NL) Chya Hsu (TW) Cyrus Longonné (FR) Daniela Rota (USA) Dijon Lin (TW) Dorian de Rijk (NL) Eric van Zuilen (NL) Hannes Hulstaert (BE) James Aspey (UK) Jannete Mark (RU) Jasper van Loenen (NL) Juan Gomez (CO) Karina Zavidova (RU) Kimberley Halsall (NL) Konstantin Mitrokhov (RU) Kris Madden (CH) Lacey Verhalen (USA) Loes Bogers (NL) Lucia Kolesárová (CZ) Meike Hardt (CH) Michaela Büsse (DE) Sijing Zhang (CN) William Eckerstein (SE)