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Penn, AS (2016) NOVEL APPROACHES TO MANIPULATING BACTERIAL PATHOGEN BIOFILMS: WHOLE-SYSTEMS DESIGN PHILOSOPHY AND STEERING MICROBIAL EVOLUTION In: Biophysics of Infection. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 915 (21). Springer International Publishing, pp. 347-360. ISBN 978-3-319-32187-5

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Understanding and manipulating bacterial biofilms is crucial in medicine, ecology and agriculture and has potential applications in bioproduction, bioremediation and bioenergy. Biofilms often resist standard therapies and the need to develop new means of intervention provides an opportunity to fundamentally rethink our strategies. Conventional approaches to working with biological systems are, for the most part, “brute force”, attempting to effect control in an input and effort intensive manner and are often insufficient when dealing with the inherent non-linearity and complexity of living systems. Biological systems, by their very nature, are dynamic, adaptive and resilient and require management tools that interact with dynamic processes rather than inert artefacts. I present an overview of a novel engineering philosophy which aims to exploit rather than fight those properties, and hence provide a more efficient and robust alternative. Based on a combination of evolutionary theory and whole-systems design, its essence is what I will call systems aikido; the basic principle of aikido being to interact with the momentum of an attacker and redirect it with minimal energy expenditure, using the opponent’s energy rather than one’s own. In more conventional terms, this translates to a philosophy of equilibrium engineering, manipulating systems’ own self-organisation and evolution so that the evolutionarily or dynamically stable state corresponds to a function which we require. I illustrate these ideas with a description of a proposed manipulation of environmental conditions to alter the stability of co-operation in the context of Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm infection of the cystic fibrosis lung.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors :
Date : 2016
Identification Number : 10.1007/978-3-319-32189-9_21
Uncontrolled Keywords : Steering complex adaptive systems, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Evolution of co-operation, Bacterial biofilms, Permaculture design, Systems aikido
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 16 May 2017 15:38
Last Modified : 17 May 2017 14:37

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