Coupling spatial segregation with synthetic circuits to control bacterial survival.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Engineered bacteria have great potential for medical and environmental applications. Fulfilling this potential requires controllability over engineered behaviors and scalability of the engineered systems. Here, we present a platform technology, microbial swarmbot, which employs spatial arrangement to control the growth dynamics of engineered bacteria. As a proof of principle, we demonstrated a safeguard strategy to prevent unintended bacterial proliferation. In particular, we adopted several synthetic gene circuits to program collective survival in Escherichia coli: the engineered bacteria could only survive when present at sufficiently high population densities. When encapsulated by permeable membranes, these bacteria can sense the local environment and respond accordingly. The cells inside the microbial swarmbot capsules will survive due to their high densities. Those escaping from a capsule, however, will be killed due to a decrease in their densities. We demonstrate that this design concept is modular and readily generalizable. Our work lays the foundation for engineering integrated and programmable control of hybrid biological-material systems for diverse applications.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Huang, S; Lee, AJ; Tsoi, R; Wu, F; Zhang, Y; Leong, KW; You, L

Published Date

  • February 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 12 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 859 -

PubMed ID

  • 26925805

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4770385

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1744-4292

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1744-4292

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.15252/msb.20156567


  • eng