Jul 20, 2017

Researchers developed bacteria that can create images

Felix Moser / AP

Researchers at MIT have engineered bacteria to sense red, green, and blue light — and then create a picture of what they've "seen," like the arrangement of fruit pictured above, by expressing pigments in those colors.

"At the most fundamental level, we've given E. Coli the ability to detect different kinds of light and then compose an image," says genetic engineer Felix Moser. "It's a demonstration that synthetic biology tools have come a long way in the last decade."

Synthetic biologists designed and custom built new genetic parts for bacterial cells that create: light-detecting proteins, a circuit to navigate and leverage the cell's mechanisms for turning genes on and off, a capacitor of sorts to regulate the energy burden being placed on the cell when it expresses these different proteins, and enzymes that actually produce the pigments.

Then, with the 1970s' finest slide projector technology, they projected an image onto a plate of bacteria and, the next morning, the bacteria had recreated the image they'd "seen."

Beyond bacteria with red-green-blue vision, precisely directed light could conceivably be used to control the production of chemicals or vaccines, essentially turning bacteria into optimized manufacturing facilities.

Go deeper

Mass shooting in Milwaukee: What we know so far

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in 2012. Photo: John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images

Six people died in a shooting at the Molson Coors Brewing Company in Milwaukee Molson Coors on Wednesday, including the 51-year-old gunman, Mayor Tom Barrett told reporters at an evening press conference with local police.

Details: All of the victims worked at the brewery complex, as did the shooter who died of "an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police confirmed in a statement late Wednesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus updates: U.S. probes case with no clear links, virus hits more countries

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The CDC said Wednesday "astute" U.S. clinicians found the novel coronavirus in a person who did not recently return from a foreign country nor knowingly have contact with anyone infected, as six more countries reported their first cases.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others. The number of new cases reported outside China exceeded those inside the country for the first time on Tuesday, the WHO said Wednesday. South Korea has the most, with 1,595 infections confirmed by Wednesday night. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 453 cases have been confirmed.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

WHO official leads criticism of Trump's coronavirus response

President Trump with members of the new coronavirus task force, including Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Wednesday. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, special advisor to the director general of the World Health Organization, told MSNBC Wednesday he found "most" of what President Trump said at his briefing on the novel coronavirus "incoherent."

The big picture: As the number of confirmed cases reaches 60 in the U.S., the top health professional — who was a health policy adviser in the Obama administration — is among several leading figures, in particular, Democrats, to criticize the president for his response to the outbreak.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Health