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Posts Tagged "synthetic biology"

Brainwaves

What Would It Take to Really Build an Artificial Jellyfish?

This week a team of scientists published a study in Nature Biotechnology* explaining how they created an artificial jellyfish dubbed a ‘medusoid.’ Let’s be clear: scientists have not built a fully functional living jellyfish from scratch. Rather, they have constructed a thin, flower-shaped sheet of rat heart cells and silicone that mimics the swimming behavior [...]

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But Seriously...

Annalee Newitz: Where did io9 get its name?

Annalee Newitz and Brian Malow

Today is Annalee Newitz‘s birthday (well, it’s still today in the most relevant time zone – uh, hers not mine). Annalee has been writing about the intersection of science and technology and culture for many years. It’s a busy intersection. Since 2008, she’s been editor-in-chief of one of my favorite websites, io9.com. If you don’t [...]

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Guest Blog

Mixed cultures: art, science, and cheese

Cheese is an everyday artifact of microbial artistry. Discovered accidentally when someone stored milk in a stomach-canteen full of gut microbes, acids, and enzymes thousands of years ago, cheesemaking evolved as a way to use good bacteria to protect milk from the bad bacteria that can make us sick, before anyone knew that bacteria even [...]

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Lab Rat

Guest post: Bricks of knowledge

The Copenhagen iGEM team

While I’m getting used to my new arrival the iGEM Team from Copenhagen have kindly provided a great guest post about their work over the summer. Further information about their project can be found on the Copenhagen iGEM team website. iGEM Team Copenhagen: Paying it forward to future iGEM’ers with ‘Bricks of Knowledge’ Inspired by [...]

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Lab Rat

Cleaning up toxic waste: directed evolution vs. designed machines

The Berkeley Pit, a former copper mine in the USA. The water is highly acidic (pH 2.5!) and filled with toxic metals. Image from NASA source link below.

Some heavy metals are required in trace amounts for the survival of living organisms, however at higher concentrations these metals can be incredibly toxic. In Europe, the elements of highest concern are arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, mercury, manganese, nickel, lead, tin, and thallium, all of which can be produced as by-products of industrial processes or [...]

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Lab Rat

The fractal patterns of bacterial colonies

bactx3_Series054_z0

Bacteria may be single celled organisms but they very rarely exist as single cells on their own. Instead, bacteria form colonies made up of many cells, all growing and dividing together. These colonies are often ordered in shape and form and various physical systems have been created to model this self-organisation; for example small vibrating [...]

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Lab Rat

iGEM Buenos Aires: Synthetic bacterial communities

Image from iGEM Team Buenos Aires

Each year, the iGEM competition encourages undergraduates from all over the world to create synthetic bacterial machines by organising modular pieces of genome. This is a guest post from the iGEM team in Buenos Aires about the competition and their project. We are happy to be presented as the first team from Argentina to participate [...]

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Lab Rat

The mainstream fronts of Synthetic Biology: Guest post

The iGEM logo

This is a guest post from M. A. Loera Sánchez from the iGEM team UANL 2012. I have carried out a few small grammar edits but otherwise the essay is all his work, and I would like to thank him for the opportunity to host it on my blog. All references are below the main [...]

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Lab Rat

Living antibiotics – bacteria that suck the life out of their prey

micovibrio aeruginosavorus

Bacteria will eat anything. Their highly diverse biochemistry, and ability to adapt quickly to change means that they can adapt to take up nutrients from a range of sources, including hot acid lakes and the interior of underground thermal vents. However bacteria also predate each other, and one particular bug, Micavibrio aeruginosavorus does this by [...]

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Lab Rat

Plastic from bacteria – now in algae!

Phaeodactylum tricornutum - the algae used in this experiment. Image from wikimedia commons credit below.

Bacteria are capable of producing a wide range of exciting and important materials, and one of the most unusual is probably bacterial plastics. Used by the bacteria as an energy store, these bioplastics are of particular interest as not only could they be a non-oil-based form of plastic but they are also biodegradable. At the moment, they [...]

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Lab Rat

Using bacteria to help prevent soil erosion – guest post from the iGEM Regional Champions

Bacteria releasing auxin, a chemical that encourages plants to develop roots and grow deep into the soil.

This is a guest post from a member of the iGEM competition team from Imperial College London. They recently won the iGEM regional championships and will be going to Boston in November to compete for the Worldwide Championships. This post describes the work they did over the summer, and how they found the iGEM experience. [...]

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Lab Rat

Synthetic DNA – now in yeast!

budding yeast cell

iGEM season is here and so to get into the spirit of things I thought I’d see if any interesting synthetic biology news had happened recently. It turns out that while I’ve been getting all excited about bacteria, people doing research on yeast have managed something pretty spectacular – they’ve replaced a whole section of [...]

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Lab Rat

MolBio carnival #14!

carnival poster

Welcome to the fourteenth edition of the Carnival of Molecular Biology! Blog carnivals are collections of writing all about specific subjects, in the case of this carnival the fascinating world of the small and cellular. For the readers it provides a collection of quality blog posts, and for the bloggers it provides an opportunity to [...]

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Observations

Researchers Engineer Rewriteable Digital Data Storage in the DNA of Living Bacteria

DNA

Engineers have invented a way to store a single rewriteable bit of data within the chromosome of a living cell—a kind of cellular switch that offers precise control over how and when genes are expressed. For three years, Jerome Bonnet, Pakpoom Subsoontorn, and Drew Endy of Stanford University tinkered with the switch in Escherichia coli [...]

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Observations

Could Human and Computer Viruses Merge, Leaving Both Realms Vulnerable?

Influenza virus

Mark Gasson had caught a bad bug. Though he was not in pain, he was keenly aware of the infection raging in his left hand, knowing he could put others at risk by simply coming too close. But his virus wasn’t a risk for humans. Gasson, a cybernetics scientist at the University of Reading, was [...]

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Observations

Can fermenting microbes save us from climate change?

Clostridium-ljungdahlii

Just as bacteria and fungi are methodically breaking down the millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, microbes might help us with another uncontrolled emission due to human activity—carbon dioxide. An anaerobic bacteria by the name of Clostridium ljungdahlii can ferment everything from sugars to simple mixtures of carbon dioxide and [...]

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Observations

What’s next for synthetic life?

synthetic life genome next step dinosaurs venter

COLD SPRING, N.Y.— J. Craig Venter and his colleagues recently announced that they had created the first cell to run on a fully artificial genome. So what’s next for this synthetic strain of microscopic Mycoplasma mycoides and the new technology? The "synthetic cell" achievement has been lauded, condemned and undercut, but it has yet to [...]

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Oscillator

Biological Speculation

A great short talk by Drew Endy about the early history of synthetic biology and the motivations, hopes, and uncertainties of bioengineering. How do we know we’re making good decisions? How can we create more improbable patterns? What should we be vibrating about?

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Oscillator

If you wish to make a gene from scratch

DNA synthesizer. Image via bioautomation.com

According to the New York Times, synthetic biology is creating DNA out of thin air. A recent article about synthetic biology and consumer goods describes DNA synthesis as a process where “DNA is created on computers and inserted into organisms.” Computers are pretty cool and really useful in synthetic biology labs, but it takes a [...]

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Oscillator

Synthetic Aesthetics: The Book!

Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology's Designs on Nature

Synthetic Aesthetics is a project that brings together artists, designers, engineers, biologists, and social scientists to investigate the design of living things. The book, published last week, includes essays on the science and technology of synthetic biology, the conflict between the engineering mindset, the logic of biology, and the language of design, as well as [...]

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Oscillator

Diversity Correlates With Success: Gender and Synthetic Biology

Study of Gender Diversity in Prize-Winning iGEM Teams by Paris Bettencourt iGEM 2013

I’ve been at iGEM (an undergraduate engineering competition in synthetic biology) this weekend learning about all the amazing bioengineering projects that students from around the world have been building. I’ll be writing more about many of these projects soon, but I wanted to highlight the work of one team on issues of gender diversity in [...]

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Oscillator

Are plants “actually doing maths”?

Arabisopsisreadytodip

Can plants do math? That is the assertion of a new paper published in the journal eLife this week titled “Arabidopsis plants perform arithmetic division to prevent starvation at night.” The plants in question aren’t spitting out numerical answers to word problems on their leaves, but doing normal plant stuff: using energy stored as starch [...]

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Oscillator

Creation and Synthetic Biology: Book Review

creation_cover

What is the origin of life on Earth? What is the future of life in the age of synthetic biology? These are two of the biggest questions of contemporary biology, and the questions that drive Adam Rutherford’s new book, Creation: How Science is Reinventing Life Itself, a compelling and accessible two-part look through the history [...]

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Oscillator

Glowing Futures

Ow et al. Science, 1986.

Back in 2010 I was a teaching fellow for a group of undergraduates competing in the International Genetically Engineered Machines competition (iGEM) with a project on “personalized” genetic engineering of plants. We designed genetic modifications that would alter flavor, color, vitamin production, and the presence of allergens, so that a gardener could customize seeds to [...]

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Oscillator

Petroleum Replicas

Howard et al.--Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

The language of innovation often stresses disruption–eliminating inefficient industries and replacing them with more streamlined, technologically advanced versions. Nowhere is disruption more complex and important than in the energy industry, with implications for so much of the way that we live, affecting global industry, economics, and climate. A major focus of synthetic biology today is [...]

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Oscillator

The Structure of Industrial Revolutions

This post originally appeared on the brand new Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc) Blog. Check it out for other new posts by Jay Keasling and Linda Kahl on intellectual property law and synthetic biology. —————— Synthetic biology is often referred to as “the field of the future,” the foundation of a third industrial revolution” [...]

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Oscillator

Synthetic Biology News Roundup

There’s been a lot of interesting papers out this month in synthetic biology. Here’s a quick roundup of some news and research: Oliver Wright, Guy-Bart Stan and Tom Ellis. Building-in Biosafety for Synthetic Biology. Microbiology, March 2013. Preprint PDF available here. Christine Rabinovitch-Deer, John Oliver, Gabriel Rodriguez, and Shota Atsumi. Synthetic BIology and Metabolic Engineering [...]

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