Scientists make world's smallest tape recorder from bacteria

In a first, Columbia University researchers have converted a bacterial immune system into the world’s smallest data recorder. Using CRISPR gene-editing method, the team modified the human gut microbe E. coli, enabling the bacteria to record their interactions with the environment and also time-stamp the events. It could be used for disease diagnosis and environmental monitoring, said researchers.

“Such bacteria, swallowed by a patient, might be able to record the changes they experience through the whole digestive tract, yielding an unprecedented view of previously inaccessible phenomena,” says Harris Wang, assistant professor in the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology and Systems Biology at CUMC and senior author on the new work, described in today’s issue of Science.

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