The envelope please: This year's iGEM winner is linkurl:Peking University.;http://parts.mit.edu/igem07/index.php/Peking The team's concept was to create division of labor among bacteria. A group of bacteria can respond to stimuli by adapting to different conditions. But what if the group could split into two, with each population able to behave differently in the same environment? So the team engineered two different systems, which controlled the spatial and temporal dimensions of differentiation. The spatial system, which they called Hop Count, uses bacterial conjugation (the transfer of DNA between bacterial cells) to transmit information between cells. They engineered a tandem series of genes that would be passed on through conjugation, with one tandem section being lost at each conjugation. In this way, the cells can count off in an assembly line fashion. "The first cell tells the second cell that it's number 1," Yifan Yang, the group leader explained, then the second cell...
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