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Published August 2012 | Accepted Version + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

A tissue-engineered jellyfish with biomimetic propulsion


Reverse engineering of biological form and function requires hierarchical design over several orders of space and time. Recent advances in the mechanistic understanding of biosynthetic compound materials, computer-aided design approaches in molecular synthetic biology and traditional soft robotics, and increasing aptitude in generating structural and chemical microenvironments that promote cellular self-organization have enhanced the ability to recapitulate such hierarchical architecture in engineered biological systems. Here we combined these capabilities in a systematic design strategy to reverse engineer a muscular pump. We report the construction of a freely swimming jellyfish from chemically dissociated rat tissue and silicone polymer as a proof of concept. The constructs, termed 'medusoids', were designed with computer simulations and experiments to match key determinants of jellyfish propulsion and feeding performance by quantitatively mimicking structural design, stroke kinematics and animal-fluid interactions. The combination of the engineering design algorithm with quantitative benchmarks of physiological performance suggests that our strategy is broadly applicable to reverse engineering of muscular organs or simple life forms that pump to survive.

Additional Information

© 2012 Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. Received 7 December 2011; accepted 14 May 2012; published online 22 July 2012. We acknowledge financial support from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, the Harvard Materials Research Science and Engineering Center under National Science Foundation award number DMR-0213805, US National Institutes of Health grant 1 R01 HL079126 (K.K.P.), and from the office of Naval Research and National Science Foundation Program in Fluid Dynamics (J.O.D.). We acknowledge the Harvard Center for Nanoscale Science for use of facilities and the New England Aquarium for supplying jellyfish. We thank J. Goss, P.W. Alford, K.R. Sutherland, K. Balachandran, C. Regan, P. Campbell, S. Spina and A. Agarwal for comments and technical support. Author Contributions: K.K.P., J.O.D. and J.C.N. conceived the project, designed the experiments and prepared the manuscript. J.O.D. and J.C.N. developed the fluid model. J.C.N. did the experiments and analyzed the data. H.L., A.W.F., C.M.R., M.L.M. and A.G. supervised experiments, analyzed data and gave conceptual advice. M.L.M. isolated rat cardiomyocytes for experiments.

Attached Files

Accepted Version - nihms458190.pdf

Supplemental Material - nbt.2269-S1.pdf

Supplemental Material - nbt.2269-S2.mov

Supplemental Material - nbt.2269-S3.mov

Supplemental Material - nbt.2269-S4.mov

Supplemental Material - nbt.2269-S5.mov

Supplemental Material - nbt.2269-S6.mov

Supplemental Material - nbt.2269-S7.mov

Supplemental Material - nbt.2269-S8.mov

Supplemental Material - nbt.2269-S9.mov


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August 19, 2023
October 18, 2023