Barcoded microbial system for high-resolution object provenance


Jason Qian, Zhi-xiang Lu, Christopher P. Mancuso, Han-Ying Jhuang, Rocío del Carmen Barajas-Ornelas, Sarah A. Boswell, Fernando H. Ramírez-Guadiana, Victoria Jones, Akhila Sonti, Kole Sedlack, Lior Artzi, Giyoung Jung, Mohammad Arammash, Mary E. Pettit, Michael Melfi, Lorena Lyon, Siân V. Owen, Michael Baym, Ahmad S. Khalil, Pamela A. Silver, David Z. Rudner, and Michael Springer. 2020. “Barcoded microbial system for high-resolution object provenance.” Science, 368, 6495, Pp. 1135–1140. Publisher's Version


Under adverse environmental conditions, some microorganisms form spores that provide robust protection for genetic material. Qian et al. developed a system in which DNA barcodes are encapsulated inside nongerminating microbial spores and can be dispersed on objects or in the environment (see the Perspective by Nivala). These barcoded spores provide a durable, specific marker that can be read out quickly with simple equipment. When applied to soil, the spores can be transferred to and from objects around them, enabling tracking at meter-scale resolution. On plant leaves, the spores are not readily transferred, and the authors demonstrate a potential use for tracking agricultural products.Science, this issue p. 1135; see also p. 1058Determining where an object has been is a fundamental challenge for human health, commerce, and food safety. Location-specific microbes in principle offer a cheap and sensitive way to determine object provenance. We created a synthetic, scalable microbial spore system that identifies object provenance in under 1 hour at meter-scale resolution and near single-spore sensitivity and can be safely introduced into and recovered from the environment. This system solves the key challenges in object provenance: persistence in the environment, scalability, rapid and facile decoding, and biocontainment. Our system is compatible with SHERLOCK, a Cas13a RNA-guided nucleic acid detection assay, facilitating its implementation in a wide range of applications.
Last updated on 10/07/2021