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Bacteria Genetically Engineered to Grow in Stripes

Scientists from California and Hong Kong genetically engineered bacterial cells so that they spontaneously grow in concentric rings. The number of rings can be controlled by altering expression of a single gene. They say the findings could shed light on the complex patterning that takes place during development.

"Natural systems make all kinds of wonderful patterns, but the problem is you never know what's really controlling it," said Terence Hwa, a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, and lead author on the study in a press release from the university. The research was published today in Science.

To create the bulls eye, researchers added genetic modules that sense how crowded the cells' environment has become and respond by altering the bacterial cells' movements.

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