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We have designed a bacterial system that is switched between different states by red light. The system consists of a synthetic sensor kinase that allows a lawn of bacteria to function as a biological film, such that the projection of a pattern of light on to the bacteria produces a high-definition (about 100 megapixels per square inch), two-dimensional chemical image.

Here are a selection of sample coliroids taken with the bacterial photography system.

This system consists of two devices.

  1. A light sensor which takes red light as an input and produces PoPS as an output.
  2. A color generator which takes a PoPS signal as input and generate color as an output.

Diagram courtesy of [ Drew Endy].

This diagram shows the list of parts that make up each of the two devices.

Diagram courtesy of [ Drew Endy].

For details on system implementation, see the reference at the bottom of this page.

BBa_B0034RBSRBS (Elowitz 1999) -- defines RBS efficiency12In stock
BBa_E0033ReporterLacZ alpha fragment; complements matching N-terminal deletion mutant (lacZ-omega)353In stock
BBa_I15008Codingheme oxygenase (ho1) from Synechocystis751In stock
BBa_I15009Codingphycocyanobilin:ferredoxin oxidoreductase (PcyA) from synechocystis775In stock
BBa_I15010Codingcph8 (Cph1/EnvZ fusion)2263In stock
BBa_K098010GeneratorHO-pcyA, low expression1531It's complicated
BBa_K098011GeneratorE. coli ompR, expressed at low level917It's complicated
BBa_K1479004RBSJust for upload test431Not in stock
BBa_K1587008DeviceRed light biosensor2288It's complicated
BBa_K1660004CompositePcyA+Ho11585It's complicated
BBa_K1660005ReporterRFP controlled by the PompR promoter978In stock
BBa_K1660006CompositeJ23100-B0034-cph82299Not in stock
BBa_K1660007CompositePompR-6N-gp35-Terminator1773It's complicated
BBa_K2656011RBSMedium Ribosome Binding Site B0034 22It's complicated
BBa_K338029Composite+OmpR, +(CinR-HSL) Double Promoter347It's complicated
BBa_K592000Codingcph8 (Cph1/EnvZ fusion)2238In stock
BBa_M30109CompositeLight responsive system, dual regulation4333It's complicated
BBa_M45047SignallingEstrogen Activated GFP1035Not in stock
BBa_R0082RegulatoryPromoter (OmpR, positive)108In stock

SyntheticBiologyCompetition2004People.jpg System design and implementation by [ Anselm Levskaya], Aaron Chevalier, [ Jeff Tabor], [ Laura Lavery], Matthew Levy, Eric Davidson, Alexander Scouras, [ Andy Ellington], Ed Marcotte, and [ Chris Voigt] of the 2004 joint University of Texas at Austin and UCSF iGEM team.



  1. Levskaya pmid=16306980
  2. Tabor pmid=19563759


  • [ MIT Biological Engineering laboratory module] on bacterial photography developed by [ Natalie Kuldell]
  • [ Instructions] for how to build a "light cannon" for use in bacterial photography.