Micro-bio-robotic communication: Multicellular pattern formation and detection with visible and ultraviolet light

Our team proposes to develop a generalizable platform for the two-way interfacing of synthetic biological systems with non-living systems. Important environmental signals such as explosives (e.g., RDX and TNT), toxins, metals, salinity, pH, temperature and light, will be detected by synthetic biosensors that function in living cells. These inputs will be processed by synthetic biomolecular networks to achieve filtering, amplification, and logical operations. The programmable synthetic biosensors and processors will operate within living cells that are located in hybrid micro-bio-robots (MBRs). These MBRs, 10-100 um in length, will be composed of microbes associated with non-living substrates. Groups of MBRs will assay and modify their environment using complex, engineered biosensors, gene networks and signaling pathways assembled from our platform technologies.

Central to these hybrid MBRs is the ability to develop two-way communication abilities. We are engineering microbe communities by equipping swarms of bacteria with transmitter-receivers that allow bacteria to both receive external signals as well as broadcast information. Thus, by coupling highly programmable cells with two-way communication interfaces, we will produce MBRs capable of being deployed to many different ecosystems, including the deep sea and coastal inlets

People: Nicholas Delateur, Deepak Mishra, Jonathan Babb