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Evolutionary Microfluidix – e-Flux  Project Summary


Project Acronym: e-Flux
Project Start: 01. Feb. 2009
Duration: 36 month
Consortium Size: 7 Partners
EU contribution: 2.3 M€


Ever since the insightful suggestion of John von Neumann, self-reproducing automata are considered to be a main long-term goal of Information Technology (IT). Biologists are dealing with such systems that arose in the course of evolution by natural selection. The future realization of technological artefacts that will mimic, or be inspired by biological automata, will face many problems that biological evolution had to solve.


e-Flux will develop droplet-based digital microfluidic systems for the manipulation of reproducing artificial compartments and natural cells (including the analysis of adaptive pathways and molecular cooperation).

e-Flux will distil insights from the comparative investigation of results on cooperation, adaptation, robustness and evolvability that could be utilized by future biomimetic and biology-inspired, reproducible and mutable fluid automata, and analyze the non-symbolic computations and the evolving representations from the perspective of selfreproducing automata.

e-Flux will validate its progress by designing better artificial genetic representations for use in evolutionary computing applied to hard search problems. The e-Flux team will produce and test designs for implementations of associative learning networks in various biochemical systems and synthesise a version of the network.


Experiments will demonstrate how bio-complexity can increase by evolutionary modification. The team will build an evolution machine by the development of a (semi-)automated serial-transfer protocol using micro- or mini-fluidics, which will be able to automatically cycle a population of few hundred thousand individual molecules or cells, evolving in parallel over a long time period. In contrast to the mass selection conditions in a macroscopic chemostat, this device allows the detailed monitoring of unique and repeatable evolutionary pathways taken by an unprecedented number of very small populations under identical conditions. This instrument will be a new and powerful tool for drug discovery and for biotechnology.