Scientists Engineered E. Coli Bacteria that Feeds on Greenhouse Gases

  • AUTHOR: fiona
  • POSTED ON: December 13, 2019

Researchers have successfully created a strain of E. coli that consumes carbon dioxide instead of other carbohydrates, such as sugar. 

Scientists have capped this development as a great milestone achievement, which completely alters organisms’ inner working. Researchers predict using this modified E. coli strain to produce biofuels and food from organic carbon molecules. The engineered E. coli bacteria can also reverse the adverse climate change. 

On 27th November, a study was published in Cell by the researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. The study indicated a successful strain creation of the bacteria Escherichia coli that feed on CO2 for energy. 

As the initial framework, the process currently produces more CO2 than it consumes; however, this study can serve as a building block for future modifications.

Generally, living organisms can be classified into two types: autotroph and heterotroph. Autotroph organisms, like plants, make their food from inorganic substances such as sunlight and CO2. On the other hand, heterotroph organisms, like animals, eat organic elements for energy.

Considering emissions of greenhouse gases and scarcity of energy sources, scientists were interested in creating heterotrophs, E. coli, and converting them into autotrophs.

Picking up on this idea, researchers considered creating a CO2-eating E. coli strain to sustain reliable sources of food and energy.

“Teaching a gut bacterium to do tricks that plants are renowned for was a long shot,” Shmuel Gleizer (study’s first author) said.

It might take a couple of more years to procure the required results from this study. For now, scientists have marked this as a great milestone for synthetic biology.

Updated December 13, 2019
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