Synthetic Organisms Powered By Electricity
Could synthetic biology be developed to adopt manmade infrastructure. I have been working in collaboration with Steffen Fiedler and James Field a synthetic biology master student at Imperial College London.
We have been looking at the electrical power grid and how the grid could also power biological processes. We were questioning whether cells could use electromagnetic fields instead of photosynthesis or digestion to power cellular processes.
James is working towards incorporating magnetic crystals in bacteria using synthetic biology. These crystals could potentially be used to harness the fluctuating magnetic fields to produce ATP through heat transfer or other means.
This ATP or glucose could then be used to power cell processes like mitosis and metabolism. These electromagnetic cells could be used in a symbiotic relation with other cells to form a functioning organism.
We speculated what these organisms could be used for in the future and how these uses may affect society.
Here is a speculative timeline:
2020 Hospital air-conditioning - Electromagnetic bacteria are initially used in hospital air-conditioning units to provide nourishment for bacteria that remove pathogens from the air. The bacteria can live purely from the electrical power of the air-conditioning unit, the condensed water and additional particles that are left from the consumed pathogens.
2028 Household devices - These electromagnetic bacteria start to make there way into household devices: TVs, fridges, vacuum cleaners, power showers, electric blankets and even lights.
2050 Electromagnetic potato plant - The first organism has been genetically modified to live of the electromagnetic bacteria in a symbiotic relationship. It is a potato plant, but it dose not require any leaves.
2070 Out of season and exotic plants - Out of season and exotic plants can be grown by enthusiasts in there own home.
2130 Underground farm - The first underground farm is opened; it is directly under a city so the transportation costs are slashed. The nutrients are supplied by household waste and sewage.