Scientists mold e.coli into shapes, letters

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Scientists at TU Delft have managed to breed the E.coli bacteria in very peculiar forms - circles, squares, triangles and even letters that spell out TU Delft, NU reports.

The E.coli bacterium is normally rod shaped and 3 micrometer long. By casting the bacterium in tiny punnets of specific shapes, the scientists managed to grow the bacteria in the shapes they wanted. They also managed to grow bacteria that were 30 times larger than normal.

By making the bacteria grow larger and in specific shapes, the scientists can better study the special protein processes in the bacteria - the waves of proteins that make sure that the organisms can divide and multiply its cells. Just before the cell division occurs, the proteins disrupts the form of the bacteria so that the organism knows exactly where to divide itself in half.

The scientists believe that studying this process can lead to new insights into the process of cell division in bacteria.

"The unraveling of this process is essential to understand the process of cell division of bacteria, which could lead to new types of antibiotics", lead researcher Cees Dekker said on TU Delft's news site. "The ultimate goal is to artificially build a living cell, because that is the only way to truly understand how life works."

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