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Our Project

We have created a novel chassis for Synthetic Biology, one that is not hindered by its cell wall. These cells are called “L-Forms” or as we prefer to call them: naked bacteria. Even better, we’ve already begun putting them to good use!

Many of the interactions between engineering and biology, required in Synthetic Biology, would be made easier without the barrier of the cell wall. Bacteria with a cell wall are harder to get things into and out of, harder to fuse together and won’t mould into different shapes. Our main BioBrick allows us not only to remove the cell wall, but to turn it back on again at the flick of a switch, ensuring the bacterium’s dignity remains intact!

We can fuse L-forms together and recombine their genomes - our naked bacteria undergo sexual reproduction! ;) This can be used to shuffle genomes and perform directed evolution to produce bacteria with improved phenotypes.

L-forms have been shown to inhabit plants, we didn’t want our naked bacteria to feel left out so we put them inside plants too. They could provide natural resistance to the plant from pathogens, and could be used to deliver useful molecules.

Naked bacteria cannot live outside of an osmotically suitable environment; as soon as they leave a plant or the lab, they’ll burst. They essentially have an in-built kill-switch. You won’t be finding any of our naked bacteria getting dirty in soil.

Newcastle University The Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology Newcastle Biomedicine The School of Computing Science The School of Computing Science