While you are stuffing of leftovers turkey in your stomach, the last thing you need to consider about is E. coli. But keep a thought in spare for the bacterium, it is not always here to damage you (and it requires eating, as well). As per a new paper posted in Cell, researchers have designed a strain of E. coli that eats carbon dioxide. As Nature clarifies, the bacteria normally prefer glucose (sugars), but the lab-made strain can be employed to make biofuels with a reduced emissions footprint as compared to traditional production techniques.
E coli, for all its bad impression, has already been employed to do much helpful stuff. Various years back, scientists managed to amass encoded info in the microorganisms, and there are also E. Coli-supported “devices.”
This is not the first time we have witnessed carbon-consuming strains, either, but earlier attempts have only eaten CO2 as a small fraction of their “diet” versus to this newest generation. If you were expecting that the new bacteria can be employed to suck out CO2 of the air and assist save the Earth, sadly that is not feasible currently. Not least since this altered bacterium presently emits more as compared to it eats. But the group behind the research does state that the strain can be employed to design “food,” and expects that switching to electrical energy as a power source may lower those emissions.
As delicious as E. coli food seems, we will have to hang around a long time to see what the future dinner plate seems like. The scientists claim that the work is typically a proof of concept currently, so our dreams of an E. coli-supported holiday dinner are some way off still. Let us see if it proves to be helpful or not.