Science of Soft Robots – Interdisciplinary integration of mechatronics, material science, and bio-computing

A03-3 : Creation of controllable biological rhythms/patterns

Group members

Leader Hiroshi Ito (Kyushu University)
Members Takuma Sugi (Shiga University of Medical Science)
Ken Nagai (Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology)


Living organisms often exhibit high-performance behaviors with limited materials and sizes. This research group investigates (1) biological clocks reconstructed in vitro and (2) pattern formation phenomenon made by nematodes, both of which are considered rhythm phenomena/pattern phenomena of living organisms. To convert these discoveries into forms that can be used by human beings, our goal is to discover a micromachine capable of processing information.

Regarding the research on rhythm patterns of living organisms, utilizing the legacy knowledge of physics is appropriate. This project plans to extract the essential aspects of the functions of living organisms and control them through a collaboration with researchers studying the circadian rhythm of cyanobacteria from the aspect of biochemistry, those studying pattern formation of nematodes, and those conducting the theoretical research on rhythm pattern formation.

Specifically, we will create a KaiC phosphorylation rhythm using the biochemical reactions of a 24-hour cycle made of three proteins. We aim to control the amplitude and phase via an external stimulus. In addition, by enclosing liposomes, we plan to develop a one-day rhythm of 24 hours in non-living organisms with a microvolume. Moreover, we are working towards the creation of cell-scale timers and counters using this vibrating biochemical reaction.

Regarding pattern formation, we aim to clarify the pattern formation processes of nematodes and theoretically examine the universal principle of how randomly moving organisms create patterns. Taking advantage of the fact that nematodes can be used in genetic analysis, we strive to realize various patterns via parameter tuning. Through the creation of micromachines using the above organisms, we will contribute to soft robotics science.