E. chromi is a collaboration between designers and scientists in the new field of synthetic biology. In 2009, seven Cambridge University undergraduates spent the summer genetically engineering bacteria to secrete a assortment of coloured pigments, visible to the naked eye. They developed standardised sequences of DNA, known as BioBricks, and inserted them into E. coli bacteria.
Every BioBrick part contains genes selected from existing organisms spanning the living kingdoms, enabling the bacteria to create a colour: red, yellow, green, blue, brown or violet. By combining these with other BioBricks, bacteria could be programmed to do beneficial factors, such as indicate regardless of whether drinking water is secure by turning red if they sense a toxin.