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Bacterial Colonies Engineered to Mimic Another Aspect of Multicellular Lifeforms

August 13, 2019 / GEN

Although bacteria may form colonies and biofilms, they do not constitute multicellular lifeforms like, well, us. Bacteria lack the ability to coordinate the basics of multicellularity, which include intercellular communication, cell adhesion, and asymmetric cell division. If this ability could be engineered into bacteria, they would become wonderfully strange a science fiction nightmare, perhaps, or more likely a synthetic biologist’s dream. Each of these three basics of multicellular life has already been engineered into bacteria separately, not as components of a controllable, coordinated system. Both intercellular communication and cell-cell adhesion technologies are available to module-minded synthetic biologists. And now, thanks to the efforts of scientists based at Rice University, the third puzzle piece—asymmetric cell division—has become available. How might all the puzzle pieces fit together in future research? The imagination reels. The Rice scientists, led ...