• Design and fabrication of recombinant reflectin-based multilayer reflectors: bio-design engineering and photoisomerism induced wavelength modulation

      Wolde-Michael, Emmanuel; Roberts, Aled D.; Heyes, Derren J.; Dumanli, Ahu G.; Blaker, Jonny J.; Takano, Eriko; Scrutton, Nigel S.; email: Nigel.Scrutton@manchester.ac.uk (Nature Publishing Group UK, 2021-07-16)
      Abstract: The remarkable camouflage capabilities of cephalopods have inspired many to develop dynamic optical materials which exploit certain design principles and/or material properties from cephalopod dermal cells. Here, the angle-dependent optical properties of various single-layer reflectin thin-films on Si wafers are characterized within the UV–Vis–NIR regions. Following this, initial efforts to design, fabricate, and optically characterize a bio-inspired reflectin-based multilayer reflector is described, which was found to conserve the optical properties of single layer films but exhibit reduced angle-dependent visible reflectivity. Finally, we report the integration of phytochrome visible light-induced isomerism into reflectin-based films, which was found to subtly modulate reflectin thin-film reflectivity.
    • The evolving art of creating genetic diversity: From directed evolution to synthetic biology.

      Currin, Andrew; email: andrew.currin@manchester.ac.uk; Parker, Steven; Robinson, Christopher J; Takano, Eriko; Scrutton, Nigel S; Breitling, Rainer; email: rainer.breitling@manchester.ac.uk (2021-05-15)
      The ability to engineer biological systems, whether to introduce novel functionality or improved performance, is a cornerstone of biotechnology and synthetic biology. Typically, this requires the generation of genetic diversity to explore variations in phenotype, a process that can be performed at many levels, from single molecule targets (i.e., in directed evolution of enzymes) to whole organisms (e.g., in chassis engineering). Recent advances in DNA synthesis technology and automation have enhanced our ability to create variant libraries with greater control and throughput. This review highlights the latest developments in approaches to create such a hierarchy of diversity from the enzyme level to entire pathways in vitro, with a focus on the creation of combinatorial libraries that are required to navigate a target's vast design space successfully to uncover significant improvements in function. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.]