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Overall Ideas

Let's use biology in ways that make sense, aka lean on the strengths of biology to accomplish tasks better than would be done through other through.

Things biology is good at: parallel processing, self-regeneration & fast multiplication, communication

Meeting 1: April 10, 2010

Food or Energy

  • Allergen free foods - custom garden toolbox; bacteria to break down lactose; lettuce allergy; cilantro; eggplant enzyme; particular plants (plants are less cmoplex to figure out)
  • Foods with alternate tastes (applications in diets/controlling caloric intake)
    • Is taste powerful enough to make you feel "full"?
  • Material conversion (to fuel)
  • Inspired by the lovely aroma in the hall just now: organisms that produce cool smells...like fresh baked cookies, or flowers... Or maybe organisms that can cover up bad smells? Would work by emitting a neutralizing chemical or by absorbing the nasty one...I guess this could go in environment actually
  • GE foods toolkit (grow your own healthy food--flavor, color, not too robust b/c it can't get out into the environment, propose that each gene is coexpressed with a different pigment so you know that it is safe).


  • [E. Chromi]

Bacteria that absorb toxins in air (sulfur dioxide, etc) or water (?)to be used in quality testing applications

Something to detect toxin concentrations in air - wouldn't use e. coli because they need to grow in aqueous environments (or could it work through liquid/air interface or on plates?)

  • Organism that breaks down [something] (for removal of unwanted waste).

Health or Medicine

  • Invasin-based tumor-seeking bacteria. (what else could invasive bacteria do?) It would be cool just to do a proof of principle in designing bacteria that exclusively invade a certain tissue type (muscle, liver, etc), dying in the absense of some signal unique to that tissue. You can imagine the usefulness for medicine - it could be a vector for hyper-specific drug delivery, or could replace a lost function in the tissue (ie, producing insulin for diabetics, etc). Even just showing that we can target a bacterium to a specific tissue exclusively (Time permitting, two or three different tissues) would be a springboard for some pretty sweet grandiose claims about future applications, a la team Cambridge last year.
  • Bacteria for weight loss, blood diagnostics


  • Biofilms

Different colors of bio-films depending on environmental stimulus (could create patterns)

  • DNA/nano assembly

New Application

  • Robots that can smell, eat, give off signals in response to different environmenmtal stimuli
  • All input/output based devices
  • Connections between biological systems and electronic systems
    • Pros of electronic systems:
    • Cons of electronic systems:
    • Pros of Biological systems:

- massive parallel computation possible

    • Cons of Biological systems:

Foundation Advance

  • Slime molds, or other types of multicellular fungi - not sure what we'd do with them, but they've got some very cool properties (reproduction, communication, algorithms). I remember reading something about algorithms governing where hyphae grow, and how that has been linked to traffic design...I'll see if I can find it again...
  • Sound responsive/mechano-responsive organisms - bacteria that react in different ways in response to loud noises, or high frequencies (screaming yeast?)

Information Processing

  • Parallel computing/bacterial computation
  • electronic biosensors /smelling robots
  • ccds
  • code breaking
  • yeast memory

Software Tool

  • computer aided design
  • games
  • automation

Meeting 2: April 24, 2010

Ideas: Focus on food and genetic fences

4 main components: Educational;Control Device--> how to tightly control RNAi; kill switch; color/flavours/scents

Allergy Foods: peanut allergies, vegetable allergies, choclate (actually that many people aren't that allergic to the actual coco plant, but to other things present in the chocolate), nut allergies

*(Minimum)Central Goal: Showing inducible production of different products in agrobacteria

  • Safety: Genetic fences, color indicator (different colors identify different genes that are expressed)
  • Above and Beyond: Fully-equipped tool-kit(educational component) to grow at home
  • Next-Steps: choose what allergy(ies) to target, find the genes involved