E. Coli has the potential to produce bio fuels and other useful products

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by wegs, Aug 24, 2016.

  1. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    I read this article tonight, and found it so remarkable! E. Coli can be useful to us? Amazing.

    Engineers at Washington University have found a new way to boost bio fuel production in E. coli bacteria by altering its protein structure.

    To read more:

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160810143714.htm
     
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  3. coffeetablescience Registered Member

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    Hey Wegs,

    Probably, you are very involved with the microbial research side of science but E.coli is like every new lab kids toy.

    Everything they do is in E.coli. Virulent diseases are also studied in E.coli.

    here's some wiki info. (I am still new, so don't know if the link will work for you)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escherichia_coli#Role_in_biotechnology
     
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  5. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Well, it's already pretty useful to us . . .

    E. Coli is popular with researchers because it is so well understood and available. However, there are risks doing genetic modification on something that is designed by evolution to colonize humans, and that we have no natural defenses for. There are plenty of other organisms (like algae) which have seen a lot of success when modified to produce biofuels.
     
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  7. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    When I was a biology student back in the 1970's, E. coli was one of the bacteria of choice for our microbiology lab exercises. That's because it was so safe and innocuous.

    Since then it's gotten a lot of bad press because of some food poisoning incidents, but I think that it's only a few strains of E. coli that can be dangerous.

    As the name suggests, it is a fecal bacterium so you certainly don't want to find it in your food products. But that's mainly because it's an indicator of fecal contamination that might result in more dangerous bacteria being present as well. Most people probably have plenty of E. coli in their colons already. Its presence as part of the normal intestinal flora can even be beneficial.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escherichia_coli

    I remember my professors and fellow students speculating about that possibility back in the 1970's, before genetic engineering really existed. With the techniques that exist now, it's arguably overdue. Many bacteria can probably be usefully bio-engineered into little living factories and cultured in bio-reactors to produce desired chemicals. The variety of chemical syntheses and fermentations that bacteria can perform in nature is already remarkable. And many of those pathways might conceivably be tweaked by splicing in new genes and such, to emphasize enzymes that catalyze the production of desired chemical products.

    I expected a tremendous boom in industrial microbiology to have already occurred by now and still expect it to happen... someday.
     
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  8. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Thank you for your insights and feedback, it's been really eye opening for me. I didn't realize how ''useful'' E. coli could be.
     

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