Recent progress in the synthetic construction of micro-compartmentalized colloidal objects comprising integrated biomimetic functions is paving the way towards rudimentary forms of artificial cell-like entities (protocells) for modelling complex biological systems, exploring the origin of life, and advancing future proto-living technologies. Although several new types of protocells are currently available, the design of synthetic protocell communities and investigation of their collective properties has received little attention. In this talk, I review some recent experiments undertaken in my laboratory that demonstrate simple forms of higher-order dynamic behaviour in synthetic protocells. I will discuss several new areas of investigation: (i) enzyme-powered motility and collective migration in buoyant organoclay/DNA protocells, (ii) artificial predatory and phagocytosis behaviour in mixed populations of synthetic protocells, (iii) chemical coupling and communication in ordered protocell communities, and the chemical construction of beating prototissues. I will use these new model systems to discuss pathways towards the advent of proto-living materials.
 Qiao Y, Li M, Booth R and Mann S. Predatory behaviour in synthetic protocell communities. Nature Chemistry 9,110-119 (2017).
 Rodríguez-Arco L, Li M and Mann S. Artificial phagocytosis in synthetic protocell communities of compartmentalized colloidal objects. Nature Materials, 16, 857-863 (2017).
 Tian L, et.al., Spontaneous assembly of chemically encoded two-dimensional coacervate droplet arrays by acoustic wave patterning. Nature Commun. 7, 13068, (2016).
Bio: Stephen Mann is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Bristol UK and distinguished for contributions to biomineralization, bioinspired materials chemistry and protocell research. Prof Mann was elected Fellow of the Royal Society UK (2003), awarded the RSC de Gennes Prize (2011), SCF French-British Prize (2011), Royal Society Davy Medal (2016) and RSC Nyholm Medal (2018). He was visiting professor at the College de France (2009) and Harvard University (2011). He has published over 500 scientific papers with a h index > 115.