Scientists Turn Bacteria into Flashing LEDs

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Bright sparks at UCSD (University of California, San Diego) have discovered a methodology in which they can make bacteria glow, flash and even spell out small words or acronyms.

This discovery was made through research into the genetic engineering of single-cell organisms in order to convert them into useful sensors.

This research has already allowed scientists at the University to tweak bacteria cells so that they will expose the presence of potentially harmful arsenic. UCSD biologist – Jeff Hasty explained that using bacteria for detection in such situations is more effective than detection kits as the bacteria can monitor such substances over longer time periods, whereas detection kits are only capable of a one off measurement.

How can bacteria possibly be turned into neon like signs I hear you ask, well UCSD explains it in the following way; “Their achievement, detailed in this week’s advance online issue of the journal Nature, involved attaching a fluorescent protein to the biological clocks of the bacteria, synchronizing the clocks of the thousands of bacteria within a colony, then synchronizing thousands of the blinking bacterial colonies to glow on and off in unison."


Picture from - Sign On San Diego

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