"Our 3D-printing approach could be used to organize other bacterial species in complex arrangements to perform useful functions, such as bioluminescence", said the researchers, sci-news.com reports.
Researchers in New Jersey have integrated microbes with nanomaterials to generate electricity via a mushroom, an advance in engineered symbiosis that could lead to designer bio-hybrid materials. Thus, Joshi and his colleagues Packed cyanobacteria of the genus Anabaena in special nanoparticles and resettle them on the surface of the artificial mushrooms.
Researchers have created an electricity-producing bionic mushroom by augmenting a white button mushroom from the grocery store with cyanobacteria and graphene. From there, all the scientists had to do was flash a light on their new bionic mushroom. Experiments showed that the setup generated small amounts of electricity and lasted for several days longer compared to silicone and dead mushrooms used as controls. The graphene nanoribbons acted like nano-probes that access the bio-electrons from the cyanobacterial cells.
"We are looking to connect all the mushrooms in series, in an array, and we are also looking to pack more bacteria together", Sudeep Joshi was quoted as saying by BBC.
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He added, "We showed for the first time that a hybrid system can incorporate an artificial collaboration, or engineered symbiosis, between two different microbiological kingdoms", reports Newsweek.
To collect the electricity, the researchers 3-D printed an "electronic ink" made up of graphene nanoribbons that form a branched network. Manoor says this network of nanoribbons is akin to "needles sticking into a single cell to access electrical signals inside it".
"Next, they printed a" bio-ink" containing cyanobacteria onto the mushroom's cap in a spiral pattern intersecting with the electronic ink at multiple contact points. Shining a light on the mushrooms activated cyanobacterial photosynthesis, generating a photocurrent.
They are now working on ways to generate higher currents using this system.
Dr Mannoor said: "By seamlessly integrating these microbes with nanomaterials, we could potentially realize many other fantastic designer bio-hybrids for the environment, defense, healthcare and many other fields". "For example, some bacteria can glow, while others sense toxins or produce fuel", said Mannoor. "By seamlessly integrating these microbes with nanomaterials, we could potentially realise many other wonderful designer bio-hybrids for the environment, defence, healthcare and many other fields".