Definition - What does Biological Internet (Bi-Fi) mean?
Biological Internet (Bi-Fi) is a breakthrough bioengineering field that centers on a M13 virus' ability to transmit messages between cells. As of late 2012, the Stanford University study was conducted by doctoral candidate, Monica Ortiz, and assistant bioengineering professor, Drew Endy, Ph.D.
Ortiz and Endy have harnessed a unique attribute of the non-lethal M13 virus - the ability to broadcast packaged DNA strands and basic biological information. Potentially, this may be applied to the human body as a type of communication network - hence the term, Biological Internet.
The researchers' findings were published September 7, 2012, in the Journal of Biological Engineering.
The M13 virus is unique because it is non-lethal and simply imposes itself on the host cell. Thus, the virus has no adverse effects. To transmit DNA, the virus simply reproduces within the host cell, wraps DNA strands in proteins and sends out the packaged strands to infect other cells. Engineers can manipulate the DNA, thereby creating a communication channel for the transfer of information between cells. However, the M13 does not "care" what is transmitted. Thus, Bi-Fi is considered a wireless and biological information network.
By using DNA as the medium of information storage, researchers can greatly increase the amount of data transmitted at a time, in contrast to other known methods, like using sugars or chemical signals.
The largest DNA strand packaged by the M13 includes more than 40,000 base pairs.