Turn away now if you’re the type to run screaming at the thought of scientists and inventors meddling with things best left alone – because the E. Chromi project involves synthetic biology and the E. Coli bacteria. Go on, the rest of us will click through.
Most people gone? Great. The rest of us can boggle at the cleverness and potential uses of being able to discover and reuse color BioBricks found in nature, and then using these color generating genes to serve as the outputs of biosensors. The examples shown in the video above speak of biosensors designed to shift to red in the presence of high carbon monoxide levels, helpful gut bacteria that will change the hue of your regular bathroom ‘deposits’ to indicate diseases you might have picked up, and little indicators that will show (in much the same way a pregnancy test would do) whether or not you have a nasty case of arsenic in your water.
What other things could it do? Like any new and science-fiction sounding technology, the real ‘killer app’ probably won’t be found for years, but just off the top of my head – milk that turns a different color when it goes off (no more sniffing and guessing), coffee and tea that shows you just how much sugar you’ve added (“Two spoons, please – just past amber”), engine oil that can tell you its age or purity, colors on your flowers that will change depending on the pollen count (“Garden is red today – better take my pills.”)