DNA-assisted swarm control in a biomolecular motor system

Journal: Nature Communications

Published: 2018-01-31

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02778-5

Affiliations: 5

Authors: 9

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Research Highlight

DNA drives swarming behaviour in nanobots

© KATERYNA KON/Science Photo Library/Getty

© KATERYNA KON/Science Photo Library/Getty

Inducing and controlling swarming behaviour in nanoscale robots could be soon be possible thanks to interactions with strands of DNA.

There are many advantages to swarming behaviour, such as that seen in fish, birds and ants, but the one researchers are most interested in is the enabling of self-assembly of complex, flexible structures. 

A study led by researchers from Hokkaido University has shown that molecular nanobots, in the form of tiny protein-based microtubules between two to ten nanometres long, can be controlled using single strands of light-activated DNA.

When the DNA interacted with the microtubules, they began to assemble into swarms. By altering the physical properties of the microtubules, researchers were able to influence how the swarm moved, and they could also use the light-activated aspect of the DNA to switch off the behaviour and disperse the swarm.

Supported content

  1. Nature Communications 9, 453 (2017). doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02778-5
Institutions Share
Hokkaido University, Japan 0.63
Columbia University in the City of New York (CU), United States of America (USA) 0.15
Nagoya University, Japan 0.11
Kansai University, Japan 0.11