Researchers Create Living ‘Neon Signs’ Composed of Millions of Glowing Bacteria

December 18, 2011

In an example of life imitating art, biologists and bioengineers at UC San Diego have created a living neon sign composed of millions of bacterial cells that periodically fluoresce in unison like blinking light bulbs.

Their achievement, detailed in this week’s advance online issue of the journal Nature, involved attaching a fluorescent protein to the biological clocks of the bacteria, synchronizing the clocks of the thousands of bacteria within a colony, then synchronizing thousands of the blinking bacterial colonies to glow on and off in unison.

Coauthors include two members of the Bioionformatics and Systems Biology program: Ph.D. candidate Phillip Samayoa and Prof. Jeff Hasty.

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