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Computer-Controlled Cyborg Yeast

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the all-your-bread-are-belong-to-us dept.

Science 61

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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Awesome! (-1, Troll)

dev363 (2502486) | more than 2 years ago | (#37972708)

Will we see (and drink) this beer [evenweb.com] in reality now?

Re:Awesome! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37972754)

Asshole! DON'T CLICK!

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37972788)

I read your comment a second too late. It took me years to get that image out of my head, and now it is back !!!

Re:Awesome! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37973142)

having the image in your head is better than having your head in the image.

Re:Awesome! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37973822)

If you're not completely unfazed by goatse by now, you need to turn in your geek card

And thus begins.... (1)

MrTester (860336) | more than 2 years ago | (#37972752)

... the zombie apocalypse.

Re:And thus begins.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37973442)

But at least then we can turn the zombies off with deep red lights.

Re:And thus begins.... (1)

Mythran (2502540) | more than 2 years ago | (#37974606)

Zombies...in search for brains...will walk right past me and leave me alone...[un]fortunately...

Awesome (-1, Troll)

dev367 (2502494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37972770)

Will we see (and drink) this beer [evenweb.com] in reality now?

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37972818)

Don't click this either. Can someone flag this guy. Looks like he has two ids.

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37972926)

Goatse, don't click.

Where is this magical 'red light' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37972772)

I need one of these lights... "Turn it on with a flash of red light, then turn if off with a flash of deeper red light"

This would work wonders... :)

As a synthetic microbiologist (2)

acidfast7 (551610) | more than 2 years ago | (#37972790)

there is nothing cyborg about this. and, i hope that the original scientists did not sell the work this way.

Re:As a synthetic microbiologist (3, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 2 years ago | (#37973074)

Actually, the best way to sell it is to call it iYeast and say it's a cloud-based service.

Re:As a synthetic microbiologist (1)

bityz (2011656) | more than 2 years ago | (#37974046)

Mod Up! Funny (and True)

As a wacko alarmist nutjob, I say . . . (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37973108)

there is nothing cyborg about this.

. . . yet . . .

"Oh, my God! The vat of yeast has formed into a giant yeast-hand, which is fiddling with the flashing red light control!"

Beware of the coming yeast infection . . .

Re:As a wacko alarmist nutjob, I say . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37980124)

Stay out of the red light district and you'll be safe.

Re:As a synthetic microbiologist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37973196)

cyborg = cybernetic + organism
Cybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems, covering control theory and feedback loops.
This is an organism that is controlled with a feedback loop.
Perhaps cybernetic does not mean what you think it means.

As an AI researcher... (5, Informative)

Okian Warrior (537106) | more than 2 years ago | (#37974226)

Cyborg is short for "cybernetic organism".

Cybernetics is the communication/interface (and control systems) between living things and machines.

So... this really is a cybernetic organism.

Re:As a synthetic microbiologist (1)

Big_Monkey_Bird (620459) | more than 2 years ago | (#37975914)

there is nothing cyborg about this. and, i hope that the original scientists did not sell the work this way.

Yeah. I hope the authors are more...

(takes off sunglasses)

...candid.

Awesome (-1, Troll)

dev368 (2502496) | more than 2 years ago | (#37972864)

Will we see (and drink) this beer [evenweb.com] in reality now?

Re:Awesome (0)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37972892)

You are a homo. Stop it

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37972872)

I, for one, welcome our new Swiss yeast overlords.

Re:Obligatory (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37976746)

Perhaps it will increase our breadboards.

Unemployment Up - Computer-Yeast Cyborgs Blamed (2)

UnresolvedExternal (665288) | more than 2 years ago | (#37972884)

FTA:

More awe-inspiringly, though — or perhaps more worryingly, if you’re a pessimist — the computer-yeast process is completely automated.

That computer-yeast is takin urrr jaaaaauuuubbbssss!

This work, performed by scientists at the... (1)

kungfugleek (1314949) | more than 2 years ago | (#37972890)

I think you meant: "This work, performed by MAD scientists at the Automatic Control Laboratory..."

Awesome (-1, Troll)

dev369 (2502498) | more than 2 years ago | (#37972956)

Will we see (and drink) this beer [evenweb.com] in reality now?

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37972982)

Yeah don't click that. link... ever.

I for one.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37972970)

look forward to our new Computer-Controlled Cyborg Yeast overlords!

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37972984)

Although I don't see the cyborg part, I, for one, welcome our new yeasty cyborg overlords!

Evolution (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37972994)

eventually yeast that does not shut off due to the light will emerge, due to trial and error evolutionary process. Then you're SoL... well of course until you make new yeast which reacts to a different light, or use a stronger light.. but if you're going down that route why don't you just hire Monsanto and get it over with.

Re:Evolution (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37973106)

Or dispose of that yeast and put in more of the original yeast into your vat.

Re:Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37973896)

All yeast shuts off in response to hard UV. As the sibling post says, sterilize the bioreactor that had the mutant batch, and replace with the regular flavor. (And in case someone is concerned about OMG MUTANT YEAST IS BURYING NEW YORK IN PROTEIN AND NOBODY CAN GET THERE WITH UV RAY GUN TO STOP IT!!!, it can only make it until it runs out of food -- starvation prevents it from being more than a minor annoyance

Yeast Infection (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#37973012)

Wouldn't wanna get one from this sh1t.

Re:Yeast Infection (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#37973068)

You would start walking at every red traffic light, and only stop when you see a really impressive deeper red light: ("that's deep, dude... whoa... I think I'll stop now").

Re:Yeast Infection (3, Funny)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#37973110)

Roxanne, you don't have to turn on the red light.
And definitely NOT the deeper red light.

Re:Yeast Infection (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37973238)

You would start walking at every red traffic light, and only stop when you see a really impressive deeper red light: ("that's deep, dude... whoa... I think I'll stop now").

Interaction with the "red light district" is going to be complicated.

Never thought... (1)

siliconsmiley (2498236) | more than 2 years ago | (#37973140)

The dark future would begin with the yeast-machine interface.

It's kind of what happens with us and the Sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37973174)

Like increasing or decreasing the strength of the Sun's output. I wonder who is controlling it.

Cyborg part... (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37973242)

The cyborg part of this- is that cyborg women can now get a cyborg yeast infection by shining a red light at them.

Yeast Infection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37973306)

what if gets a yeast infection

I wonder how good cyborg beer (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37973360)

could that yeast brew.

Re:I wonder how good cyborg beer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37978262)

That is EXACTLY what I first thought.

Re:I wonder how good cyborg beer (1)

sincewhen (640526) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980800)

I hope the project is open source, because then...

FREE AS IN BEER!!!

Computer? (1)

vencs (1937504) | more than 2 years ago | (#37973554)

This sounds like a cool automation that might save many hours of dealing with growing-testing-discarding cycles in bio-labs. One gripe is about the repeated usage of 'computer' as the one doing it - giving the details about the sensors - photo/chemical - would be more informative to the technical folks at /.

Here's a link to the original publication. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37973644)

http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nbt.2018.html

A minor clarification to TFS: "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."
 
The control circuit genes still have to be added synthetically (or at least added in conjunction with a suitable promoter sequence (in this case, Gal1 which has a binding site for Gal4 - part of the fusion construct responsible for the light activation). The fact is that there are several well documented transcription control mechanisms (lac operon, trp operon, arabinose promoter etc) that are currently used at the industrial scale for microbes. The lights are new, but since the reporter gene in this case (YFP) was being read using flow cytometry, this is very unlikely to be cheaper or easier to work with. Most of us will stick with good old IPTG for inducing gene expression in our microbes.

Hmmm (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 2 years ago | (#37973814)

As I often write in my blog, I am a homebrewer. So, does this mean that we could create cyborg yeast to brew beer? Cyberbeer! You could control things like attenuation, flocculation, etc.It'd be really interesting to see the possibilities.

Re:Hmmm (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980048)

It could be interesting, but it'll be a while. Extracting 45-million year old strains of brewing yeast from amber sounds much more fun (and cheaper) - Wired ran a story on how to do this and I'm planning on giving it a go at some point. The challenge is to identify what's brewing yeast and what's lethal bacteria. Before it kills you.

Re:Hmmm (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 2 years ago | (#37980136)

Psh, that's what rhesus monkeys are for! If you get it wrong, well, back to the drawing board. If you get it right??? DRUNK MONKEYS!

can't have it both ways RIAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37973988)

With the advent of Net Neutrality the consensus is that the ISP's aren't going to be able to block/filter any sort of traffic; bits are bits, bytes are bytes and the ISP's give no &#*$@ what it is. Their responsibility ends at delivery of the packet according to the respective customer's service level agreement. Do I necessarily love this law, not really....But i'm willing to bet these recording companies were all over it before they realized it's going to bite them on the ass. These ISP shouldn't have to spend their resources seeking out piracy sources on the web and filtering them out. If we're going to make it illegal for them to wield that power to their advantage then they shouldn't be made to be responsible for doing favors for the RIAA. Deal with it dog.

TFA redefines "easily" (1)

bityz (2011656) | more than 2 years ago | (#37974182)

from TFA:

To begin with, this would just be a manufacturing boon, but it could easily end with computers growing new humans (or skinjobs?) from vats of stem cells.

Interesting technology. Interesting possibilities. Poor story.

Misread Title (1)

Hungus (585181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37974450)

You know you have read too much Sci Fi when:
You misread the headline of "Computer-Controlled Cyborg Yeast" as "Computer Controlled Cyborg Yeats" and start looking over your shoulder for the Shrike's 3rd cousin and the Shrubbery of annoyance.

mmmm beer.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37974496)

this will be excellent for home brewers... to start/stop fermentation at will...

looking forward to all the crazy microbrews this leads to.

Imagine the applications... (2)

Arcaeris (311424) | more than 2 years ago | (#37975586)

Imagine if such proteins could be embedded into human cells. It would be amazing if you could implant cells that would release chemicals to fight cancer, or fight disease. Development of this technology could be the first step to engineering our bodies better than nature has done for us, say by releasing antibiotics automatically when light is shined on certain cells.

Also, imagine if you could embed cells or proteins that give you an orgasm when a red light is flashed on you. It would give a whole new meaning to "red light district."

"The problem is controlling those organisms..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37975786)

Oh Good.

Another software patent.

Re:"The problem is controlling those organisms..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37976262)

One?

Clearly you're underestimating the versatility of: "on a computer-yeast interface" as a way to make what was old new again.

Could be a big deal (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#37975830)

This could be a big deal for biofuels. Biofuel companies already have organisms that produce fuels, but are having trouble scaling up the process because all the bugs die if anything is the slightest bit off.

so - i put my front porch light to better use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37985400)

but how do i make it a deeper red?

Brewing Implications (1)

matthew_t_west (800388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37986776)

Wow. This has some implications for the craft/homebrew yeast companies. Control over reproduction rate and when it occurs at a more granular level... Although this can be controlled by providing food and adequate temperature, this may be something they could use. I'm thinking of these types of businesses:

http://www.wyeastlab.com/ [wyeastlab.com]

http://www.whitelabs.com/ [whitelabs.com]

Oh, and Left Coast Represent!

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