OpenWorm milestone: artificial worm gains muscle sensation

James sez, "Mini-milestone in the OpenWorm Project, the collaborative, open source attempt to construct an artificial life form from the cellular level to the point where it's able to have basic problem-solving abilities. They've now artificially recreated internal muscle sensation, a building block for movement, entirely through code -- watch the eerie video!"

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Synthetic biology Kickstarter aims to make glowing plants

Ben sez, "The first ever synthetic biology Kickstarter is about growing glowing plants. Using synthetic biology and Genome Compiler software, they are ready to input bio-luminescence genes into a mustard plant and have it be naturally glowing. Meant more as a hint of things to come and what can be achieved with synth bio."

It's ambitious, but the project's lead looks like he has the necessary experience. Still, as with all ambitious Kickstarters, you should be prepared to lose your dough.

We are using Synthetic Biology techniques and Genome Compiler’s software to insert bioluminescence genes into Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant and member of the mustard family, to make a plant that visibly glows in the dark (it is inedible).

Funds raised will be used to print the DNA sequences we have designed using Genome Compiler and to transform the plants by inserting these sequences into the plant and then growing the resultant plant in the lab.

Printing DNA costs a minimum of 25 cents per base pair and our sequences are about 10,000 base pairs long. We plan to print a number of sequences so that we can test the results of trying different promoters – this will allow us to optimize the result. We will be printing our DNA with Cambrian Genomics who have developed a revolutionary laser printing system that massively reduces the cost of DNA synthesis.

Transforming the plant will initially be done using the Agrobacterium method. Our printed DNA will be inserted into a special type of bacteria which can insert its DNA into the plant. Seeds of a flowering plant are then dipped into a solution containing the transformed bacteria. The bacteria then injects our DNA into the cell nucleus of the seeds which we can grow until they glow! You can see this process in action in our video.

Glowing Plants: Natural Lighting with no Electricity or CO2