Is There Nothing E. coli Cannot Do? The Borg Edition

By Carl Zimmer | January 21, 2010 9:25 pm

In my book Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life, I describe how this humble germ helped make modern biology possible–and, in the process, has been engineered to do all sorts of remarkable things. In 2008, I blogged a fresh example, courtesy of Jeff Hasty and his colleagues. They retooled the bacteria to flash in clock-like rhythms. Now Hasty has taken another step forward, rejiggering E. coli so that millions of bacteria can flash in waves. The new paper’s in Nature, and the journal put together a lovely video of the bacteria in hive-mind performance. Check it out below.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Microcosm: The Book

Comments (7)

  1. I need to share this with our iGEM team…see if they can come up with something fab like this!

  2. Stanley H. Tweedle



  3. I was a microbioligist (hospital lab) in a prior life and they fasinated me then. These new findings are beyond my wildest imaginings.

  4. Stanley H. Tweedle


    the word is spelled ‘fascinated’!

  5. This is extremely cool stuff. For anyone interested in a longer feature on this work, I invite you to check out


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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