A team from the University of Tokyo, Japan, however have manipulated the bacterium to perform a more noble task: solving Sudokus. The bacterium managed to solve 4×4 grid Sudoku puzzles, and in theory the more common 9×9 grid puzzles should be solvable as well. They used 16 types of E. coli with a distinct genetic identity, one for each square in the grid. Each bacterium can express one of four colors which represent the numerical values. The bacteria which are present in the starting situation represent the unsolved puzzle, and these bacteria then message nearby bacteria using RNA. Neighboring bacteria only accept RNA from cells in the same row, column or block, which ultimately leads to a process in which the bacteria solve the puzzle.
The video above explains how the researchers coaxed this scourge of industrial food production into sudoku stardom.
Previously: Image of the Week: What E. coli looks like, Using E. coli as an engine, U.S. researchers use bacteria to power simple machines, “Blink different:” E. coli engineered to alter blinking rate according to its environment and Biologists create a living computer from E. coli bacteria