MrSeb writes "With a slightly weird world first, scientists have formed a feedback loop between common, baking and brewing yeast, and a computer. The computer can trigger the yeast to produce a protein, and the yeast then feeds back to the computer how much of the protein is being produced — the computer has exact control over the yeast's production. This work, performed by scientists at the Automatic Control Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, is exceptional because of its simplicity: The computer turns the yeast on by flashing a red light, and it turns the yeast off by flashing a deeper red light. Connected to the yeast is a 'reporter' molecule that fluoresces when the protein is produced. The computer can see this fluorescence and alter the light it emits, thus creating a full feedback loop. The simplicity is significant because of the role of yeasts and bacteria in the production of antibiotics, biofuels, and more. The problem is controlling those organisms — so far, scientists have tried to genetically add synthetic control circuits, with limited success... and now the Swiss have shown that it can be done by simply shining a couple of lights."
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