Living Bacteria Programmed to Build Working Sensors in New Study


In a recent industry development, researchers at Duke University have gotten bacteria self-organize to be built into functional devices. A proof-of-concept study undertaken by researchers have converted bacteria to be used as builders for useful devices that have been programmed with a synthetic gene circuit.

As a bacterial colony multiplies to take the shape of a hemisphere, resultantly, a type of protein is produced by the gene circuit that is distributed within the colony to be used with inorganic materials. Following this, researchers supplied the bacterial colony with gold nanoparticles, as a result, a golden shell is formed around the bacterial colony that can be controlled in size and shape.

This results in the building up of a device that can be used as a pressure sensor, which proves that the process can build working devices.

New Study Involves Three Dimensional Growth Medium Lacking in Previous Studies

Previously, experiments have been conducted that successfully resulted in growing materials using bacterial processes. However, these experiments relied completely on controlling bacterial growth externally and were limited to two dimensions. The new study reveals how researchers at Duke University conducted the production of a compound structure by means of programming the cells and by monitoring their access to nutrients. The process, however, involved leaving the bacteria to grow freely in three dimensions.

As stated by a research associate, this technology has enabled to grow a functional device from a solitary cell. Further, he stated that, the fundamental of programming a cell to grow into an entire tree is no different. There are numerous examples in nature wherein organic and inorganic compounds combine to make better materials.

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