Can you force microorganisms to perform useful work? Chemist Justin Gallivan (Justin Gallivan) brought us one step closer to the implementation of such a possibility. He reprogrammed harmless species of bacteria Escherichia coli to "search and destroy" the molecules herbicide called atrazine.
"Instead of changing a single gene, causing the cell to do a single job, we can begin to deal with the cell almost like a computer - to reprogram her to perform a complex task," - said Gallivan.
His latest findings were published in a recent issue of the journal Nature Chemical Biology.
Gallivan is at the forefront of science such as synthetic biology. An important goal of this science is the reprogramming bacteria to perform complex tasks such as synthesizing and delivery of drugs or finding and removal of environmental pollutants.
"The bacterium E. coli swims to what she likes and floats away from the objects that annoy her," - said Gallivan - "She communicates with other cells. It synthesizes complex mixtures and reproduces itself every 20 minutes. Other words, E . coli can taste, think, speak, listen and create. "
The program, under which it can do it all, lies in the genome of the bacteria, and partially regulated by RNA switches, known as ribopereklyuchateli. Gallivan team reprogrammed the chemical navigation system into E. coli, having carried out a hacker attack on the control program and bacteria entering the synthetic ribopereklyuchateli. The presence of atrazine switches synthetic ribopereklyuchatel, causing the bacteria to move to where the higher the concentration of the herbicide.
In addition, researchers have built in E. coli genes from bacteria-eating atrazine, thus, the bacteria learned to perform another task - recycling. "In fact, E. coli uses molecules of atrazine as a meal by splitting them into something less harmful," - said Gallivan.
Atrazine has been banned in the European Union, but remains one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States, where it is used in quantities measured in millions of pounds every year. "If you use any substance in such quantities, some of it inevitably will in the groundwater," - said Gallivan, explaining why his lab is looking for methods of purification of the substance.
Gallivan is engaged in basic research at the interface of chemistry, biology and materials science. "The area of my research - reprogramming simple organisms, in order to fulfill their new for them, tasks, as can be more predictable and rational," - he said - "A Revolution in Biology. We begin to truly understand the structure of living organisms at the molecular level. Instead of asking, "What is the nature of this body?" we can begin to ask: "What can we do with this body?". Interesting science and technology news only on pages of our portal.