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Novel living system recreates predator-prey interaction
Date:4/13/2008

n the scientific scene around 2000, and many of the systems created since have involved the reprogramming of single bacteria. The current circuit is unique in that two different populations of reprogrammed bacteria live in the same ecosystem and are dependent on each other for survival.

The key to the success of this kind of circuit is the ability of the two populations to communicate with each other, You said. We created bacteria representing the predators and the prey, with each having the ability to secrete chemicals into their shared ecosystem that can protect or kill.

Central to the operation of this circuit are the numbers of predator and prey cells relative to each other in their controlled environment. Variations in the number of cells of each type trigger the activation of the reprogrammed genes, stimulating the creation of different chemicals.

In this system, low levels of prey in the environment cause the activation of a suicide gene in the predator, causing them to die. However, as the population of prey increases, it secretes into the environment a chemical that, when it achieves a high enough concentration, stimulates a gene in the predator to produce an antidote to the suicide gene. This leads to an increase in predators, which in turn causes the predator to produce another chemical which enters the prey cell and activates a killer gene, causing the prey to die.

This system is much like the natural world, where one species the prey suffers from growth of another species the predator, You said. Likewise, the predator benefits from the growth of the prey.

This circuit is not an exact representation of the predator-prey relationship in nature because the prey stops the programmed suicide of predator instead of becoming food, and both populations compete for the same food in their world. Nevertheless, You believes that the circuit will become a useful tool for biologic researchers.

This system provi
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Contact: Richard Merritt
richard.merritt@duke.edu
919-660-8414
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3

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