Biological architecture: From protective biocrystals to 3D-printed biofilms

Apr 13, 2022, 4:00 pm5:00 pm
Engineering QUAD, A224



Event Description

The Meyer lab studies fundamental questions of chromosome organization in bacteria. In starving bacteria cells, Dps (DNA binding protein from starved cells) compacts DNA into a dense structure that resembles a crystal, both in vivo and in vitro. We found that this dramatic chromosome condensation does not affect gene expression in starved cells either directly or indirectly in the cell. We hypothesize that the compacted nucleoid forms a dynamic liquid crystalline structure that excludes some DNA-binding proteins yet allows RNA polymerase free access to the buried genes, a behavior characteristic of phase-separated organelles.
We also perform research targeted at applying and re-engineering bacteria to synthesize bio-inspired materials with improved properties. We have targeted bacterial production of patterned artificial nacre, a biomineralized, optically active material lining seashells that combines high mechanical stiffness with high fracture toughness, as well as conductive graphene materials. Our custom-built 3D bacterial printers allow us to deposit bacteria into spatially-patterned biofilms and living materials. Combination of our biological materials-producing systems with our newly developed 3D bacterial printers allows the sustainable and straight-forward production of spatially-structured biomaterials.