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Towards a Microbial Colour Wheel: Spatial Control of Gene Expression

               rinbow picture


What can we do with synthetic biology, and how easily can we do it? We picked a straightforward test: making and combining gradients of color to create patterns such as a rainbow and a color wheel. Doing this would require gaining control over several color outputs in a smoothly varying manner, and being able to pattern the inputs to create the pattern desired. Achieving this would demonstrate a degree of fine control over engineered organisms.


We used and improved the great colors from Uppsala 2011 as outputs. We first tried putting them under IPTG control, which was successful, but the dynamic range was disappointing. Next, we developed and tested a means of controlling copy number, which allowed us to both increase the dynamic range of control, and also create a permanently settable switch through plasmid loss. (Incidentally, this could make a great safety switch for environmental release.) Finally, we designed a system that would use these parts to create a rainbow of color, although we didn’t have time to finish putting the pieces together.

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