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New geometries: Researchers create new shapes of artificial microcompartments

from Northwestern University via PhysOrg

In nature, biological functions are often carried out in tiny protective shells known as microcompartments, structures that provide home to enzymes that convert carbon dioxide into energy in plant cells and to viruses that replicate once they enter the cell. Most of these shells buckle into an icosahedron shape, forming 20 sides that allow for high interface with their surroundings. But some shells —such as those found in the single-celled Archaea or simple, salt-loving organisms called halophiles — break into triangles, squares or nonsymmetrical geometries. While these alternate geometries may seem simple, they can be incredibly useful in biology, where low symmetry can translate to higher functionality. more


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