Period doubling in a cell-free genetic oscillator

Periodic perturbation or driving of nonlinear oscillators is known to lead to complex dynamics such as period doubling bifurcations or even chaos. In the context of biochemical and biological oscillators, this phenomenon has been predicted, but is difficult to observe experimentally. Here, we utilized microfluidics to periodically perturb a synthetic genetic oscillator operated in a cell-free expression system, and indeed found evidence for period doubling and quadrupling.

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Aufinger, L., Brenner, J. & Simmel, F. C. Complex dynamics in a synchronized cell-free genetic clock. Nat Commun 13, 2852 (2022).