Synthetic Biology

Growing pressure sensors from bacteria

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Science  03 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6363, pp. 605-606
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6363.605-c

Mimicking the way that biological organisms combine organic and inorganic materials with microscopic structural properties, Cao et al. show that pattern-forming bacteria can be engineered to support construction of miniature pressure sensors. Bacteria modified with a genetic regulatory circuit produced patterns of excreted inorganic matrix materials. These materials interacted with metal particles to make patterns that depended on the properties of a membrane on which the bacteria were grown. Gold nanoparticles could thus be layered to make domelike structures that, when opposed to one another, formed pressure sensors. They could even be combined into circuits to allow noise filtering or signal amplification.

Nat. Biotechnol. 10.1038/nbt.3978 (2017).

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