Researchers at Duke, Caltech, Stanford and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have developed a living system using genetically altered bacteria that they believe can provide new insights into how the population levels of prey influence the levels of predators, and vice-versa.
The Duke experiment is an example of a synthetic gene circuit, where researchers load new "programming" into bacteria to make them perform new functions. Such re-programmed bacteria could see a wide variety of applications in medicine, environmental cleanup and biocomputing. In this particular Duke study, researchers rewrote the software of the common bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli.) to form a mutually dependent living circuit of predator and prey.
The bacterial predators don't actually eat the prey, however. The two populations control each others' suicide rates.