Computing with bacterial constituents, cells and populations: from bioputing to bactoputingReport as inadecuate

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Theory in Biosciences

, Volume 130, Issue 3, pp 211–228

First Online: 08 March 2011Received: 05 January 2010Accepted: 15 December 2010


The relevance of biological materials and processes to computing—aliasbioputing—has been explored for decades. These materials include DNA, RNA and proteins, while the processes include transcription, translation, signal transduction and regulation. Recently, the use of bacteria themselves as living computers has been explored but this use generally falls within the classical paradigm of computing. Computer scientists, however, have a variety of problems to which they seek solutions, while microbiologists are having new insights into the problems bacteria are solving and how they are solving them. Here, we envisage that bacteria might be used for new sorts of computing. These could be based on the capacity of bacteria to grow, move and adapt to a myriad different fickle environments both as individuals and as populations of bacteria plus bacteriophage. New principles might be based on the way that bacteria explore phenotype space via hyperstructure dynamics and the fundamental nature of the cell cycle. This computing might even extend to developing a high level language appropriate to using populations of bacteria and bacteriophage. Here, we offer a speculative tour of what we term bactoputing, namely the use of the natural behaviour of bacteria for calculating.

KeywordsBiological computing Bacteria Minimal cell Synthetic biology Turing Origin of life Computer science  Download fulltext PDF

Author: Vic Norris - Abdallah Zemirline - Patrick Amar - Jean Nicolas Audinot - Pascal Ballet - Eshel Ben-Jacob - Gilles Bernot -


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