skip to content

The Department has carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and has opened to allow research work to take place. To ensure the safety of our staff, a range of measures to reduce building occupancy and allow strict social distancing have been introduced, including increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. We are currently not accepting visitors so please continue to contact us by email until further notice.

Department of Plant Sciences

Engineered signaling allows two-way bacterial conversations

Paul Grant and members of Jim Haseloff’s group, in collaboration with Neil Dalchau and Andrew Phillips from Microsoft Research, Cambridge, have developed a framework for building the cellular interactions required for engineering multicellular systems.  Grant, Dalchau, and colleagues combined signaling pathways from V. fischeri and P. aeruginosa in E. coli and built a mathematical model of crosstalk in the system in order to engineer independent signaling channels.  By growing these engineered bacteria on membranes printed with hydrophobic grids that kept populations isolated, and imaging fluorescent protein outputs, the authors were able to create synthetic multicellular systems in which both the genetics and the geometry were controlled.  This allowed for an intercellular feedback loop that resulted in initiation and propagation of a signal through spatially separated populations.

Grant PK, Dalchau N, Brown, JR, Federici F, Rudge TJ, Yordanov B, Patange O, Philips A, Haseloff J. (2016) Orthogonal intercellular signaling for programmed spatial behavior. Molecular Systems Biology.