Mimicking the coral-algae relationship with 3D printing – potential biomedical applications?
Their relationship blossoming on the sea bed, algae and coral have shared a symbiosis for millions of years – the coral providing protection, while the algae use photosynthesis to make and share nurturing chemicals like oxygen. Here, a modified form of 3D printing helps to ‘print’ intricate coral structures which channel patterns of light into their nooks and crannies – guiding the growth of algae. Zooming in on the lab grown coral with a scanning electron microscope, we see microalgae clumps or aggregates growing in the gaps. In the future it may be possible to design and grow huge coral/algae structures to produce chemicals on demand, as a new energy source, or perhaps as living scaffolds inside the human body, providing a boost of oxygen to healing tissues.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
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