Researchers have engineered biofilms to be "bionic," writes Nadia Drake at Wired.
Using inducible genetic circuits and cellular communication circuits, Harvard University and MIT researchers were able to regulate Escherichia coli culi amyloid production and show that the cells could self-assemble the fibrils, as they report in Nature Methods. They also got those culi fibrils to interface with gold nanoparticles and quantum dots, giving the biofilms new properties.
"So aside from producing fluorescent tooth plaque (yuck), what good are these things?" Drake asks. "The team already turned one of their biofilms into an electrical switch. Scientists suggest uses in smart sensors or tissue engineering, solar cells and batteries, or in converting agricultural waste to biofuel."