'Cyborg' yeast genes run by computer

Control Yeast Light Prof

The groundbreaking approach could possibly find use in future energies to control organic processes, such as the production of biofuel from microbes.

It appears in Nature Biotechnology.

The technique is a relatively easy means to take control of remarkably sophisticated biochemical processes to attain a desired consequence.

"The neat detail regarding this is that there are many people who have certainly attempted to do details like this by, for example, coding in the cell itself an artificial circuit, putting genes and mechanisms in the cell," expressed co-author John Lygeros, of the Automatic Control Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich.

"That's had definitely restricted success up to now."

Prof Lygeros followed Prof Mustafa Khammash of the ETH's Biosystems Science as well as Engineering department and Prof Hana El-Samada's group at the University of California San Francisco to strive to achieve higher control.

The team started with the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae - a well-studied stress of yeast recognizable since historical times in brewing as well as baking.

A research in the exact log in 2002 identified that when S. cerevisiae is left open to light, a molecule called phytochrome within it can switch sorts; red light converts it to an "active type" as well as a farther reddish colored converts it back.

The activity of the phytochrome can begin or stop the genetic machinery that causes the development of a provided protein.

The team used this secret to make certain that when the yeast was producing that protein - matching to the gene being switched on - it could be tracked by making use of a "media reporter" molecule that itself gives off light in a process called fluorescence ( via bbc.co.uk ).