Pressure sensors generated from pattern-forming bacteria

Paul Ruffin Scarborough, Stefan Zauscher, and Duke colleagues have programmed bacteria with a synthetic gene circuit to turn them into working devices.

As a bacterial colony grows into the shape of a hemisphere, the gene circuit triggers the production of a protein, to distribute within the colony, that recruits inorganic materials. Gold nanoparticles enable  the system to form a shell around the bacterial colony, resulting in  a pressure sensor.

This is the first time that a composite structure was produced by programming the cells themselves, and controlling their access to nutrients, but still leaving the bacteria free to grow in three dimensions.

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