Blinking Bacteria Warn of Contamination
By modifying the genetic material in Escherichia coli and tricking them into talking to each other across long distances, bioengineers have coaxed millions of bacteria to blink, or fluoresce, at the same time. Also, the researchers tweaked the E. coli to blink when arsenic entered their environment. Published in the Jan. 5 issue of Nature, the results could one day lead to the design of low-cost, hand-held sensors that use colonies of bacteria to detect toxic chemicals or disease-causing germs.
January 20, 2012