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Using Robots to Study Host-Microbiome Interactions

Journal: Exploring Host-Microbiome Interactions using an in Silico Model of biomimetic robots and engineered living cells – Published in Scientific Reports.

Dr’s : Heyde and Ruder
Funded by: National science Foundation, USA

Understanding the human body is vital to understanding how the body works and how drugs can interact with the body. Microbiomes play an important role in the regulation of the behaviour and health of its host (which could be the human body or part of it).

Within this new piece of research, scientists have prepared an in silico model of a living microbiome, engineered with synthetic biology, which interfaces with a biomimetic, robotic host. They used this technique to copy complex behaviours in the host giving larger understandings of the exploration of inter-kingdom ecological relationships. 

The researchers studied two different topologies of information flow, critical for host-microbiome interactions to help us understand biochemical interactions. The way the synthetic gene circuits, allows the exploration of genetic pathways and relationships in a single organism. This in silico system works as a tool, used to augment and examine the interconnected network hat drive host-microbiome interactions.

Things they studied:
·         Host alteration between nutrient sources : (e.g lactose, arabinose and carbon depots)
·         Using the changes in nutrient sources to prescribe a range of robot behaviours.

The scientists expect that this model system will have implications in fields ranging from synthetic biology and ecology to mobile robotics. Heyde and Ruder also believe that their model system provide a useful system for exploring host-microbiome interactions with synthetic biology. 

Inforgraphic: Click to enlarge.