A home biolab

Biology gets stylish

Amino Lab

Ever wanted to create your own organism? It’s now easier than ever. Just take a dash of E. coli, a pinch of jellyfish DNA, stir well and heat gently. As it bubbles away in a vial mounted on top of the stylish wooden box, the mixture slowly turns red. When done, this bioluminescent paint made by your customised bacteria will glow like a firefly.

At an event for synthetic biology start-ups in San Francisco on 4 February, Amino Labs showed off the Amino One, a tabletop bioreactor aimed at the consumer market.

The kit shrinks several lab components on to a device the size of a briefcase. Beginners will be able to modify and grow bacterial cells to create paint, medicinal compounds, scents and even foodstuffs such as yogurt, beer and bread.

The Amino One comes with a couple of basic recipes that walk users through the steps needed to create their first custom bacteria. To make red bioluminescent paint, for example, you simply insert the kit’s K-12 strain of E. coli and jellyfish DNA into the bioreactor. The Amino One then raises the temperature inside the chamber, prompting the bacterial cells to open their membranes and allow the DNA in.

Feed me, now!

Supplied with food from another chamber, the bacteria multiply in a tube that runs along the top of the device. Users can keep an eye on things like temperature and pH via the device’s screen or a web app. When finished, the device will clean itself and reset for the …

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