Architects of nature: growing buildings with bacterial biofilms

Dade-Robertson, Martyn, Keren-Paz, Alona, Zhang, Meng and Kolodkin-Gal, Ilana (2017) Architects of nature: growing buildings with bacterial biofilms. Microbial Biotechnology. ISSN 1751-7915

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Official URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1751-79...

Abstract

In his text ‘On Architecture’, Vitruvius suggested that architecture is an imitation of nature. Here we discuss what happens when we begin using nature in architecture. We describe recent developments in the study of biofilm structure, and propose combining modern architecture and synthetic microbiology to develop sustainable construction approaches. Recently, Kolodkin-Gal laboratory and others revealed a role for precipitation of calcium carbonate in the maturation and assembly of bacterial communities with complex structures. Importantly, they demonstrated that different secreted organic materials shape the calcium carbonate crystals formed by the bacterial cells. This provides a proof-of-concept for a potential use of bacteria in designing rigid construction materials and altering crystal morphology and function. In this study, we discuss how these recent discoveries may change the current strategies of architecture and construction. We believe that biofilm communities enhanced by synthetic circuits may be used to construct buildings and to sequester carbon dioxide in the process.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C500 Microbiology
H900 Others in Engineering
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences > Applied Sciences
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2017 12:59
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2017 13:12
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/31373

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