‘The Secret Life of Bees’: A Scientist’s Quest to Make Herself a Botanical Genius
“We’ve all heard the term ‘bionic bee,'” says Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Michigan and the lead author of the study.
“But the actual biological basis is far less known.
We’re basically trying to do a biosynthesis for a bionic bee.”
Biological synthesis is the science of transforming a living thing into a living system, using genetic engineering.
In the study, Zittraining and his colleagues created a bioluminescent gene that was engineered to produce a fluorescent protein that could glow when exposed to light.
This fluorescent protein can also be used to make fluorescent molecules, which can then be used as fluorescent dye or as a dye for photosynthesis.
“It’s basically a ‘do-it-yourself’ kind of thing,” Zittrained says.
This study was done using fluorescent fluorescent dye, and the researchers were able to synthesize fluorescent proteins that glow when illuminated by light from fluorescent lamps.
It also showed that the fluorescent protein could be made using genetic material from the fungus Mycobacterium tuberculosis and other fungi, which were then reprogrammed to produce fluorescent proteins, Zittlerain says.
The researchers’ fluorescent proteins were then used to create a bionucleic acid molecule.
This molecule can then serve as a genetic blueprint for all of the proteins in the bionic gene, so the researchers could later create new proteins using the gene.
In a way, the scientists are mimicking a biological process.
Bionic bees are a perfect example of the kind of bioengineering researchers want to pursue in the future, says Zittrian, who co-authored a new study with co-author Matthew B. Muehlbauer, who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University.
The study was published in Nature Communications.
The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and several other grants.
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