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Project Goals

Our interest in the dependence of separation distance in activation-inhibition intercellular signaling stems from the possibility of observing oscillations in chemical concentrations over time. This work will not only give us a better understanding of how natural biological systems operate but could also lead to the design of a novel type of biological sensor.

Imagine a sensor composed of a lawn of bacteria, which under normal conditions are all fluorescing at steady state. However once the system is exposed to a foreign substrate (substance to be detected), the dynamics of the system suddenly switch from steady state to oscillatory, which can be observed and noted by a technician.

This idea is still in the planning stages. We have begun exploring this system through two approaches: mathematical and microbiological. We have developed a partial differential equation based model in order to gain insight into the natural dynamics of the system as well as how they vary with perturbations to parameters. In parallel, we have engineered a microbiological system in order to begin carrying out experiments to validate our modeling results. The following pages describe our progress in these two themes.