​E. Coli Sudoku – Bacteria Strain Solves Puzzles

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November 17, 2010

E. Coli Sudoku – Bacteria strain solves puzzles. Students have genetically engineered a strain of e. coli bacteria that can solve sudoku puzzles.

“Because sudoku has simple rules, we felt that maybe bacteria could solve it for us, as long as we designed a circuit for them to follow,” University of Tokyo team leader Ryo Taniuchi said in a statement.

The scientists placed 16 types of E. coli bacteria in a four-by-four sudoku grid, giving each a unique genetic identity depending on the square it occupied. The bacteria were also able to express one of four colors to signify the numerical value of the square.

Bacteria occupying certain squares were assigned a value and corresponding color by the scientists, to replicate the small number of values that are already present in any sudoku puzzle.

So, how did the bacteria solve the sudoku puzzle? This will make your head spin. It’s all about communication.

The bacteria that were assigned a value transmitted that value to bacteria in “unsolved” grid squares, and because the E. coli were programmed by the scientists only to accept signals from cells in the same row, column or block as themselves, the undifferentiated bacteria figured out which color to adopt based on a process of elimination.