This fascinating video shows E. coli cells flashing in unison and explains how researchers at the University of California, San Diego engineered the bacterial genes to alter their blinking rates when environmental conditions change.
According to the video:
Researchers can watch waves of light propagate across the colony. Adjusting the temperature, chemical composition or other conditions can change the frequency and amplitude of the waves. Because the blinks react to subtle changes in the environment, synchronized oscillators like this one could one day allow biologists to build cellular sensors that detect pollutants or help deliver drugs.