Foundry staff and users have engineered a set of bacteria that can irreversibly attach hard or soft materials to the cell surface with controllable density.
Significance and Impact
The researchers have created a living construction kit that can make hierarchically ordered materials with the highest surface density of any other engineered living material (ELM). The new platform opens the door to making self-assembling ELMs with specific properties like iridescence.
- The research team took advantage of the surface layer (S-layer) protein RsaA from the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus.
- Using a biological lock and key system called SpyTag/SpyCatcher, the researchers were able to dictate specifically where, as well as how densely packed, nanomaterials will bond to the cell surface.
- The engineered bacteria could attach proteins, biopolymers, and quantum dots to the engineered cell surface without affecting the cells’ viability.