Bio-engineered E coli to Feed on CO2 Gas

Escherichia coli is the most studied microorganism. This is because its simple metabolism those are common with other bacterias.

Recently a team of Esriali scientists have worked on E. coli and successfully developed a new strain of it, which can stay alive on gas CO2 diet.

This achievement is considered as a milestone in microbiology. By such strain of E. coli we can build organic compounds from gaseous CO2. These organic compound can solve the problem of food and fuel in near future. By removing CO2 gas pollution from the atmosphere.

Till now, plants and photosynthetic cyanobacteria – aquatic microbes that produce oxygen – utilize energy from Sun to fix CO2 gas from atmosphere. These organisms are genetically hard to modify. However, E. coli is easy to understand and engineer, and its fast growth on artificial media make it best one to work on.

Ron Milo, a systems biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and his team have spent the past decade, while working on E. coli diet. In2016, they created a strain of E. coli that consumed CO2, only a fraction of the organisms’s carbon intake – the rest was an organic compound that the bacteria were fed, called pyruvate.

In the last work of Milo, get success in making a strain of E. coli which can take all of its carbon intake from gaseous CO2. To achieve it, they keep E. coli on low sugar and high CO2 concentration about 250 times those in earth’s atmosphere. They hoped that the bacteria would evolve mutations to adapt to this new diet. After about 200 days, the first cells capable of using CO2 as their only carbon source emerged. And after 300 days, these bacteria grew faster in the lab conditions than did those that could not consume CO2.

As per Cheryl Krefeld (a bioengineer at Michigan State University in east Lansing) This work of Milo, is a “milestone” and shows the power of melding engineering and evolution to improve natural processes.

Already, E. coli is used to make synthetic versions of useful chemicals such as insulin and human growth hormone. Milo says that his team’s work could expand the products the bacteria can make, to include renewable fuels, food and other substances.

Reference: Nature 576, 19-20 (2019)

Gaurav Singh

Editor in Chief Medical Microbiology & Recombinant DNA Technology (RDT) Labs - RDT Labs Magazine

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