E. chromi: Designer Bacteria

E. chro­mi, a short film about a unique col­lab­o­ra­tion between design­ers and biol­o­gists has won the best doc­u­men­tary award at Bio:Fiction, the world’s first syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy film fes­ti­val, held ear­li­er this month in Vien­na.
E. chro­mi tells the sto­ry of a project unit­ing design­ers Alexan­dra Daisy Gins­berg and James King with a team of under­grad­u­ate biol­o­gy stu­dents at Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty. Using genes from exist­ing organ­isms, the team designed cus­tom DNA sequences, called Bio­Bricks, and insert­ed them into E. coli bacteria.The new E. coli—dubbed “E. chromi”—were pro­grammed to express a rain­bow of col­ors when exposed to var­i­ous chem­i­cals.

Gins­berg and King helped the young biol­o­gists dream up a vari­ety of pos­si­ble appli­ca­tions for the invention.For exam­ple, E. chro­mi could be used to test the safe­ty of drink­ing water–turning red if a tox­in is present, green if it’s okay. Or it might  be used as an ear­ly warn­ing sys­tem for dis­ease: a per­son would ingest some yogurt con­tain­ing E. chro­mi, then watch out for tell-tale col­ors at the oth­er end of the diges­tive process.

The E. chro­mi team was award­ed the grand prize at the 2009 Inter­na­tion­al Genet­i­cal­ly Engi­neered Machine (iGEM) com­pe­ti­tion at the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy. For more films on syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy, see the Bio:Fiction web­site.

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  • You can buy books, book and audio com­bi­na­tion pack­ages and audio-only prod­ucts in tra­di­tion­al book­sellers like Barnes and Noble, Bor­ders Books, Books-a-Mil­lion and oth­ers. Soft­ware prod­ucts can also be found in Wal-mart, Best Buy and oth­er large stores that car­ry any kind of soft­ware. All these retail­ers also have online stores, and of course there is always Amazon.com. If you want to lim­it your expo­sure to hol­i­day shop­ping traf­fic and crowds, buy­ing online is the only way to go.

  • thedoc says:

    This could be huge for the med­ical com­mu­ni­ty. Easy to see if some­thing is present in the sys­tem

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