3D打印的“仿生珊瑚”模拟珊瑚礁的光合作用能力——TechCrunch
3D-printed ‘bionic corals’ mimic a reef’s powers of photosynthesis – TechCrunch
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2020-04-12 22:53
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The mass die-off of coral reefs is a catastrophe of global proportions, but the sheer scale of their success as organisms has lessons for science. Case in point: these 3D-printed “bionic corals” from Cambridge researchers that are more than scaffolds for fragile microorganisms — they're built out of them.

珊瑚礁的大规模死亡时一场全球性的灾难,但珊瑚作为有机体的巨大成功却给科学带来了教训。举个例子:这些来自剑桥大学研究人员的3D打印的“仿生珊瑚”不仅仅是脆弱微生物的支架——它们是用它们建造的。

If 3D-printed corals sound familiar, that's because a couple of years ago some other researchers suggested using structures printed to resemble the complex shapes of reefs as solid bases on which new corals and other animals could grow. It's a good idea, but there's more to a reef than a solid base.

如果3D打印珊瑚听起来很熟悉,那是因为几年前,其他一些研究人员建议用打印出来的结构来模拟珊瑚礁的复杂形状,以此作为新珊瑚和其他动物生长的坚实基础。这是一个好主意,但暗礁比坚固的基地更重要。

Corals are in fact a highly evolved symbiosis between the coral organisms themselves and algae that live inside them. The algae use photosynthesis to power the creation of sugar for their host, and the coral provide a safe living environment — and, interestingly, are also highly efficient at collecting and redirecting light. This partnership has been fruitful for millions of years, though rising ocean temperatures and acidity have upset the delicate balance necessary for success.

珊瑚实际上是珊瑚有机体本身和生活在其中的藻类之间高度进化的共生体。藻类利用光合作用为宿主产生糖分,珊瑚则提供了一个安全的生活环境——有趣的是,他们在收集和重新引导光纤方面也非常高效。这一合作关系已取得了数百万年的成果,尽管不断上升的海洋温度和酸度破坏了成功所必需的微妙平衡。

The team at Cambridge realized that to successfully imitate the coral micro-ecosystem, they'd need to replicate that special quality of capturing sunlight and diffusing it within for use by resident algae. To do so, they studied the structure of corals closely and worked to remake it at a microscopic level. But instead of using an ordinary durable substrate, they created a sort of living gel.

剑桥大学的研究小组意识到,要成功地模拟珊瑚微生态系统,他们需要捕捉阳光并将其扩散到室内供藻类居住使用的特殊品质。为了做到这一点,他们对珊瑚的结构进行了密切的研究,并致力于在围观层面上对其进行改造。但他们没有使用普通的耐用基质,而是创造了一种活凝胶。

“We developed an artificial coral tissue and skeleton with a combination of polymer gels and hydrogels doped with cellulose nanomaterials to mimic the optical properties of living corals,” explained Cambridge chemist Daniel Wangpraseurt, lead author of the paper in which the technique is described. Algae were infused into the mixture as well, so the researchers were essentially printing living matter.

剑桥大学化学家Daniel Wangpraseurt解释说:“我们开发了一种人造珊瑚组织和骨架,它由聚合物凝胶掺有纤维素纳米材料的水凝胶组成,以模拟活珊瑚的光学特性。”藻类也被注入到混合物中,所以研究人员基本上是在打印生物物质。

That kind of technique is already being tested and used for medical purposes — printing part of an organ or tissue for implantation, for instance. In this case it has to be printed not with a specific large-scale shape, but with an extremely complex internal geometry that maximizes the reach of light hitting the surface. This has to be done very quickly or the algae will die from exposure.

这种技术已经被测试并用于医疗目的——例如,打印器官或组织的一部分以供植入,在这个情况下,它必须答应的不是一个特定的大规模形状,二十一个极其复杂的内部几何结构,最大限度地达到光打击表面。这必须非常迅速地完成,否则藻类将因暴露而死亡。

The resulting bioprinted structure is an ideal home for the algae, producing growth rates many times the speed of an ordinary medium. That doesn't mean the next step is growing corals super-fast — in fact, there's no reason to think this will actually lead to coral restoration. On the other hand, this type of simulation could lead to a better understanding of the ecosystem in which the coral-algae partnership thrives, and how it can be nurtured.

由此产生的生物打印结构是藻类的理想家园,其生长速度是普通培养基的许多倍。这并不意味着下一步珊瑚的生长速度会非常快——事实上,没有理由认为这会导致珊瑚的恢复。另一方面,这种模拟可以更好地理解珊瑚藻伙伴关系所处的生态系统,以及如何培育它。

In the meantime, the promise of multiplying algae growth speeds has commercial appeal today, and a startup called Mantaz has been founded to pursue more near-term uses of the technology.

与此同时,提高藻类生长速度的承诺在今天具有商业吸引力,成立了一家名为Mantaz的初创公司,以追求这项技术在短期内的更多应用。

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