How cool would be a 100 megapixel per square inch photograph? Yes, you read it right, 100MP!! 😯 It would look quite a bit for those of us with our meagre 2MP or 4-5MP cameras but wait before you throw your cameras to lay your hands on this one!! This is not your ordinary digital camera, its a living camera and the photos come at a price!! It takes about 4 hours to take a snapshot and it works in only red light!! 😕 Yes, 4 hours, now that 4MP camera of yours which takes a snapshot in a second will start looking just amazingly fast to you!! 🙂
Welcome to the world of biotech. This 100MP photo producing living camera that we are talking about has its photo film made up of light sensitive bacteria. It uses light to switch on genes in a genetically modified bacterium that causes the image recording chemical to darken. Since the bacteria are quite tiny, you get an amazing resolution of 100 MegaPixels per square inch!! Developed by a team at University of California in San Francisco, USA, the bacteria used in the film is a food poisoning gut bacterium called “E. Coli“. The reason for the choice was that this bacteria doesn’t use light at all, other bacteria might’ve used light resulting in unwanted biological processes!!
The E. Coli was genetically engineered as genes, for a protein that reacts to red light, were put in the cell membrane of this bacteria from photosynthesising blue-green algae. On activation, that protein acts to shut-down the action of a second gene, resulting in a switch off that turns an added indicator solution black, which results in a monochrome image that can be printed permanently on a layer of modified E. Coli. 😉
This camera will however won’t be available in stores, if some of you are drooling while thinking about it & waiting for it to go on sale!! 😀 This was produced just as an excercise in advance genetic engineering!! 😉
You can read the full story at New Scientist which goes on explaining what this technique in advance genetic engineering can be helpful with.