Exploring Host-Microbiome Interactions using an in Silico Model of Biomimetic Robots and Engineered Living Cells
The microbiome's underlying dynamics play an important role in regulating the behavior and health of its host. In order to explore the details of these interactions, we created an in silico model of a living microbiome, engineered with synthetic biology, that interfaces with a biomimetic, robotic host. By analytically modeling and computationally simulating engineered gene networks in these commensal communities, we reproduced complex behaviors in the host. We observed that robot movements depended upon programmed biochemical network dynamics within the microbiome. These results illustrate the model's potential utility as a tool for exploring inter-kingdom ecological relationships. These systems could impact fields ranging from synthetic biology and ecology to biophysics and medicine.