Budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae); hand-colored scanning-electron-micrograph by Micronaut (Martin Oeggerli).
Modification of cell surfaces with synthetic hydrogels is a promising approach for controlling cell behaviour. Here, Vanella and colleagues developed a genetically controlled system that enables cells to auto-encapsulate inside protective hydrogel capsules. The image shows an encapsulated budding yeast cell directly adjacent to a non-encapsulated one. This system links inducible gene expression to a synthetic capsule that protects target cells against lysis and mediates communication with the extracellular space through a permeable hydrogel.