Humans Teach Bacteria New Language

A group of scientists lead by Professor James C. Liao are engineering an artificial cell-to-cell communication network by teaching bacteria to communicate with each other and to work together in a whole new way. Bacteria commonly use chemicals to signal each other; the researchers sought to get bacteria to use different chemicals. The intent of the research is to achieve "novel, nonnative behavior in bacteria."

The team demonstrated that Escherichia coli bacteria could be taught to communicate with each other in new ways by adding new control genes into the bacteria's genome. The engineered cells talk with each other by secreting acetate, which is a normal by-product of E. Coli metabolism. However, once a defined concentration of acetate has been reached, the engineered cells have a specific reaction: the whole bacterial culture responds in concert by producing a green fluorescent protein - they light up. The result: a tunable quorum sensing circuit.

The authors believe that this cell-to-cell communication can "improve the biological production of chemicals and enable the construction of intelligent biocircuits." Eventually, they could get different kinds of cells to communicate who today ignore each other.

Highly organized, multicellular fans of science fiction writer Greg Bear are naturally horrified by this new development. In his terrific (and hopefully not prophetic) 1984 story Blood Music, Bear tells the story of how ordinary B-lymphocytes within the human body were transformed into intellectual cells and were taught to communicate and work together in new ways. I don't want to give away the ending, but let's just say that inventing the bacterial equivalent of Esperanto turned out to be a grandega miskalkuli. ;)

See also the reference article - Design of artificial cell-cell communication using gene and metabolic networks. The original story article was found here.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/13/2004)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Biology ")

Chinese Fern Helps Remediate Arsenic Soil
'Bioengeering had put out a spec report on the long crawly things five months back.' - Gregory Benford, 1983.

New Lifelike Material Powered By Artificial Metabolism
'... The biological robots were not living creatures.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.

DNA May Contain Malware
'You were told to embed the logical pathogen.' - A. Reynolds and S. Baxter, 2016.

GMO Houseplant Cleans Your Air
Removes compounds too small to be captured by a HEPA filter.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Skin Electronics Can Show Electrocardiogram
'... the young men in the streets who applied polyimde OLED body film to their bared shoulders.'

Chinese Fern Helps Remediate Arsenic Soil
'Bioengeering had put out a spec report on the long crawly things five months back.'

Skai Air Taxi Costs The Same As Uber
'The air-taxi found its way past and around other ground-cars...'

Neurodevices For Consumers? Neuroethicists (And Philip K Dick) Say 'Caveat Emptor'
'They tried to use it today and it wouldn't work. No colors and no ceph patterns, neither one...'

NASA 3D Printed Habitat Challenge Won By AI SpaceFactory
3D printing - on Mars!

The Future Of Elon Musk's Neuralink
'Cerebral Electromagnetic Emmission Amplification and Relay System call it artificial telepathy, if you like.'

Researchers Make You Say Anything in Videos
'[It] caused his televised image... to mouth the vowels and consonants beautifully.'

Jeff Bezos Tries Waldoes (Robotic Hands)
'Waldo put his arms into the primary pair before him...'

Asimov and Musk - Boring Company Tunnel vs. Street Race
'There was almost no sound, just a steady velvety whirr as the taxi sped along.'

Project Dylan - Amazon's Voice-Activated Wearable That Recognizes Human Emotions
Life imitates anime art.

Tesla Diagnoses Itself, Sends Part Request
'Tentacles emerged from the side of the machine and felt puzzledly at the damaged area.'

Lilium Electric Air Taxi Prototype
'The air-taxi found its way past and around other ground-cars...'

Swedes Premiere T-Pod Driverless Electric Truck
'the trucks gulped packages and scurried like beetles...'

HEL TVD Laser System To Be Built By Dynetics Lockheed Martin
'Forthwith flashes of actual flame, a bright glare leaping from one to another, sprang from the scattered group of men.'

Alcarelle Synthetic Alcohol Like Star Trek Synthehol
Bottoms up!

Datagrid Model Generation Perfect For Eternal Cities Of Science Fiction
'... there was enough flexibility to allow for wide variation.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.