Quorum Sensing and Formation of Adaptive Systems 

In this study, we examined the natural formation of E. Coli bacterial biofilms as an inspiration for developing an artificial, self-assembling system. The features of bacteria cells were studied as a model for designing architectural units (or “bricks”), and the attachment processes between the cells in bacterial biofilms were studied as a model for developing a smart adaptation system to combine and recombine the individual units together. The selection of E. Coli biofilms as a model for this architectural research was made on the basis of the extensive, pre-existing empirical knowledge that we have about their formation, as well as the complexity of the biofilm structures, their demonstrated environmental fitness, and the relevance of that knowledge to potential design applications. We reviewed the scientific literature to discover how biofilm structures are formed. One concept that we quickly learned is that cell-surface polysaccharides play a crucial role in mediating the attachment process among individual units. In addition to serving as a barrier between the cell wall and the external environment, these polysaccharide molecules provide much of the structural connective tissue of biofilms. The way in which the connecting polysaccharides are produced by the cells during biofilm formation is mediated by a process called quorum sensing (QS). This is a kind of cell-to-cell communication, mediated by an exchange of signaling molecules, that affects the way genetic instructions are expressed in individual cells. QS allows the individual cells to receive feedback about the density and relative positioning of other nearby bacteria cells. Based on this information a variety of process may be adjusted or initiated within each individual cell, ultimately leading to the formation of effective structural attachments to specific neighboring units.

In this study, we examined the natural formation of E. Coli bacterial biofilms as an inspiration for developing an artificial, self-assembling system. The features of bacteria cells were studied as a model for designing architectural units (or “bricks”), and the attachment processes between the cells in bacterial biofilms were studied as a model for developing a smart adaptation system to combine and recombine the individual units together. The selection of E. Coli biofilms as a model for this architectural research was made on the basis of the extensive, pre-existing empirical knowledge that we have about their formation, as well as the complexity of the biofilm structures, their demonstrated environmental fitness, and the relevance of that knowledge to potential design applications. We reviewed the scientific literature to discover how biofilm structures are formed. One concept that we quickly learned is that cell-surface polysaccharides play a crucial role in mediating the attachment process among individual units. In addition to serving as a barrier between the cell wall and the external environment, these polysaccharide molecules provide much of the structural connective tissue of biofilms. The way in which the connecting polysaccharides are produced by the cells during biofilm formation is mediated by a process called quorum sensing (QS). This is a kind of cell-to-cell communication, mediated by an exchange of signaling molecules, that affects the way genetic instructions are expressed in individual cells. QS allows the individual cells to receive feedback about the density and relative positioning of other nearby bacteria cells. Based on this information a variety of process may be adjusted or initiated within each individual cell, ultimately leading to theformation of effective structural attachments to specific neighboring units (Whitehead et al., 2001).

Credited to: Design & Augmented Intelligence Lab 

Research Team: Mohammad Hassan Saleh Tabari, Ali Ahmadian, Dr. Kalantari 

Year: 2016

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Ithaca, NY 14853
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