If the planet Vulcan had microbes, they might look something like this. Scientists have engineered bacteria that can perform four basic operations of logic: AND, OR, NAND and NOR.
By combining these logic units in various ways, it could be possible to engineer microbes with an internal “decision tree” logic that controls their behaviors. The technique, which is described in the Oct. 17 Science, could give scientists a new level of control when designing microbes for a variety of uses, such as fermenting biofuels or producing pharmaceuticals.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.