Julie Legault’s Amino Bio-engineering Kit Creates A Bacterial Tamagotchi

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Canadian designer Julie Legault has developed a desktop biolab to make synthetic biology far more accessible, enabling end users to hack DNA at home and monitor the progress of their creations (+ film).

Synbio Amino tamagotchi by MIT Media Lab

Legault described the Amino kit – which was created with the MIT Media Lab and has been successfully funded by means of Indiegogo – as “a bit like an Arduino for synthetic biology”.

It comes as a square wooden box with a hinged plastic lid, similar to that on a record player. Amino contains almost everything essential for consumers to undertake their own synthetic biology experiments at property – including bacteria, DNA, foods, sensors and resources.

Synbio Amino tamagotchi by MIT Media Lab

“The consumer knowledge is one factor I am focusing on, to make it easy to do,” Legault advised Dezeen. “Then you can go in a bit additional as soon as you comprehend the simple notion. So at 1st it is like an Simple-Bake oven.”


Related story: Neri Oxman 3D prints “photosynthetic wearable” to host residing organisms


At present the Amino kit comes comprehensive with a non-dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria, which can be combined with synthetic firefly DNA to develop a glowing residing nightlight.

Synbio Amino tamagotchi by MIT Media Lab

The bacteria, which arrives in a tube, is extra to a petri dish and left for 12 hrs to develop. The consumer then selects cells to be placed into a resolution that can make the cell membranes porous.

The firefly DNA can then be additional to the remedy, before it is place on ice for twenty minutes and then heated – forcing the bacteria cells to take in the DNA as they fix themselves.

Synbio Amino tamagotchi by MIT Media Lab

The cells are then chilled and fed, and moved to a new petri dish that contains an antibiotic. Only bacteria that have transformed and taken in DNA will survive.

Twelve hrs later on the petri dish must demonstrate colonies that can be chosen and inserted into Amino’s main tube, raised above the rest of the lab, which will then glow like a night light.

Synbio Amino tamagotchi by MIT Media Lab

The Amino kit then functions like a living Tamagotchi – the Japanese electronic toy pet. Consumers keep track of the bacteria’s development and consumption, generating positive it is adequately fed to hold on surviving.


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Although Legault intends to ship the very first edition of Amino with just one bacteria choice, she hopes to develop long term kits that could allow end users to build their very own yeast for baking bread, or even harvest their personal DNA to be utilised.

Synbio Amino tamagotchi by MIT Media Lab

The kit could also be adapted to create fragrances, flavours, components, and even produce medicine, such as insulin, at home.

Synthetic biology is more and more fascinating designers, who have proposed using the area to do every thing from changing vaccinations with mushroom inhalers to modifying the human body so it can consume and digest rotten food.

“Synthetic biology and genetic engineering is going to be as massive as electrical engineering was for the last century,” Legault informed Dezeen. “It truly is a new technological innovation, scientists have received a very good grip on it now and it is currently affecting us in terms of meals and medication, and materials.”

Synbio Amino tamagotchi by MIT Media Lab

“For me it really is essential absolutely everyone has access to at least recognize the basics – not everybody should turn out to be a scientist, but as an artist it’s pretty great to make your personal residing pigment, for instance.”

“With the entire GMO [genetically modified organisms] and medication debate, it is essential to have a hands-on knowledge rather of just studying the newspapers,” she extra.

Previously, designer Samuel Wilkinson designed a Tamagotchi-like miniature garden that utilizes an accompanying smartphone or iPad app to management the water, climate and nutrients reaching the flowers within the terrarium.


Related story: Biome by Samuel Wilkinson

Related film: Teresa van Dongen’s bioluminescent lamp is “a new way to produce light”

Dutch designer Teresa van Dongen explains how she produced a lamp powered by bioluminescent bacteria generally found on octopuses, in this movie filmed in Eindhoven. Greater model + story »

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