Illuminating Synthetic Biology: Undergraduate team develops a bioelectric lightbulb

17/08/2016 - 2 minutes

A group of undergraduate researchers at Newcastle University has created a lightbulb from genetically engineered E. coli. In the pipeline are also a hybridised batteries, a capacitor, and a resistor, and the forthcoming circuit will serve as the team’s entry into 2016’s iGEM competition.

IGEM_logo_2500x2500We’ve heard of fungi furniture, but synthetic biology is extending tendrils into another area of interior design: lighting. A team of undergraduate students at Newcastle University in the UK has developed a bacteria-based lightbulb under the guidance of Professor Anil Wipat.

The group’s genetically engineered E. coli generates bioluminescence upon stimulation with electricity: when a heat-stress promoter is encoded into the genome, the bacteria produce a fluorescent bacteria in response. This lightbulb will be integrated into a larger circuit comprised of hybrid batteries, capacitors, and resistors, and its success marks another exciting development in the budding field of bioelectronics.

Newcastle University’s project, titled “Culture Shock,” is its entry into this year’s International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition,

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