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Microbial Factories

Bigger isn’t always better

Humans have relied on microbes for millennia. Yeast brews our beer and raises our bread. Bacteria in our guts keep us healthy. Microscopic phytoplankton in the ocean produce half of the world’s oxygen. Thanks to genetic engineering, technology, and good old evolution, humans are about to enter into a new phase of our ancient partnership. We may soon create bacteria that eat plastic, emit light, and even tell us whether or not we’re healthy. When it comes to microbes, big things come from small packages.

Staff Picks

‘An alien naturalist might consider humans as little more than smart city housing for bacterial colonies’

E. Chromi

In 2009, undergraduates at the University of Cambridge worked with scientists and artists to engineer E. coli into E. chromi, a new type of bacteria that secretes a range of colorful pigments.

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Interview: Lining Yao, Interaction Designer and Maker of Novel Materials

Real innovations are high tech but analogic they are created by mixing biology genetics and design to save energy and...