An open toolkit for engineering microbial interactions
Interactions between cells in complex communities can result in the emergence of unexpected functional behaviors beyond what a simple cellular monoculture could achieve. There is ubstantial untapped potential in exploiting cellular communities to advance a range of synthetic biology applications, from biomaterials to more efficient cellular factories. We propose to develop a unified toolkit for systematically engineering the structural and ecological interactions that can occur between mixed populations of two cell types. Our toolkit will provide both artificial urface-receptors for building combinations of adhesive interactions between Escherichia coli and modular circuits for generating synergistic and antagonistic ecological relationships between cells. With this set of intercompatible and functionally-characterized parts, we will provide an open and accessible resource for scientists, educators, and community-based labs to begin programming multi-cellular bacterial communities.