Soon we Will Light Our Homes with Bacteria
Science & Tech / /
We know many light bulbs today on the market among which are incandescent, LED, fluorescent, neon, halogen and may more, but a biobulb is something we haven’t experienced yet. If you think you know everything about Escherichia Coli, wait until you see this newly discovered feature.
Despite all the complications that E. coli is causing to our organism, there is at least one that can be used for good causes.
A team of students at the University of Newcastle were attempting to combine electronic engineering and synthetic biology to solve the problem of electricity-gobbling bulbs by creating a light source that doesn’t need an electric input but instead is made of living.
To create this device, the Newcastle team designed genetically modified E.coli, which because of the emphasized expression of a fluorescent gene, would light when exposed to an electrical current or a heat source at 42 °C. When the bacteria is hit by the sudden temperature increase a series of successive processes produce the production of a protein known as σ-32 transcription factor. This causes the transcription of the engineered
construct resulting in the production of Green Fluorescent Protein, because of which the bacteria glows. Researchers also created a circuit that will connect the bulb and the power source hoping to make a kit that can easily snap together.
“Our project involves us replacing some of the traditional electronic components in a circuit with biological alternatives. The circuit will allow synthetic biologists to combine bacterial and electronic components to create electro-biological circuits. The ultimate goal is the fusion of synthetic biology and electronics to augment electronic devices,” – the team explains.
According to the researchers their main goal is to create a toolkit that can further be used and upgraded by other researchers, encouraging them to create new ideas on the bases they have established.
˝Everything we have done is open source. It’s more about what other people can do with the basis we’ve set, rather than design anything revolutionary ourselves. We wanted to provide people with the tools to generate new and exciting technologies.˝- says Ollie Burton, a team member.
As far as the potential practical implementation of this project is in question, professor Wipan explains that by providing a fusion of electronics and complex, powerful, biological systems, a whole new generation of electronic systems is enabled, including hybrid bio computers. Researching the interface between electricity and bacteria will be fundamental to this effort and the team is making a great start.
image source: New Scientist