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The Air Force is always in search of new and efficient ways to protect the lives of their Airman and equipment. Biosensors are self-sufficient, natural systems that can report a signal based on the presence of a specific molecule. However, biosensors are limited by a low signal output. Here we describe how a biological amplification circuit, loosely based on concepts similar to electrical circuitry, will be used to produce and amplify a signal. The biosensor consists of sensing cells and reporter cells that are ‘wired’ together via quorum-sensing signal molecules. The sensing cells contain a riboswitch that activates the reporter cells only when in the presence of a ligand specific to the riboswitch. When compared to a riboswitch with direct control of expression, the amplification circuit was able to increase the amount of fluorescence generated. The amplification circuit also increased the sensitivity of the riboswitch, resulting in fluorescent signal production at much lower ligand concentrations. Lastly, the amplification circuit reduced the time required for the reporter cells to produce a fluorescent signal output.

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Karolyn M Hansen

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This poster reflects research conducted as part of course project designed to give students experience in the research process.