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New Escherichia Coli Can Feed on Carbon Dioxide for Energy

Discovery of the Energy Source of Escherichia Coli

Although most people hate E. coli, they are one of the research objects that scientists attach great importance to. Recently, scientists have successfully replaced the "food taste" for E. coli. According to a new paper published in the journal Cell, scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have cultivated a type of E. coli that feeds on carbon dioxide. This type of bacteria usually prefers sugar or glucose, but laboratory-grown strains convert carbon dioxide into its own energy when it produces substances that can be used in biofuels.

Research on Energy Source of Escherichia coli

Currently, several types of E. coli have been used to make biofuels, but they usually feed on sugar, and sugar is not a rich substance, so scientists turned to seek new research breakthroughs. The researchers added an enzyme that converts carbon dioxide to the E. coli gene, and removed other enzymes used to metabolize sugars, ultimately successfully changing the source of "food" they depend on. In order to prove that E. coli really does not need sugar to survive, scientists put these bacteria in the laboratory for 200 days. When these bacteria were studied again, the researchers found that they had successfully "evolved" and were able to grow without the need for sugar.
Ron Milo, the head of the study, said that the research team did not expect to be able to make such a "great change" in the genome of this bacteria. The current problem is that E. coli releases more carbon dioxide during growth than they consume. Therefore, researchers still need to conduct more research to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions in the future.

Application Prospects of New Escherichia Coli

Although E. coli has terrible characteristics, it has been used to do many useful things. A few years ago, when researchers studied how to store encrypted data in microorganisms, they created a "computer" based on E. coli. The modified E. coli can be used to produce other chemicals in the future, and they can also use the carbon dioxide by-products produced by the steel industry or the concrete industry to produce insulin for diabetic patients. Frank Sargent of Newcastle University said: "This technology has unlimited possibilities, and this directed evolution has won the Nobel Prize. This is a good example."
Studies have also shown that E. coli can be used to produce psilocybin in the magic mushroom, which is a substance that can prevent depression. More and more people are starting to test it as a treatment for mental illness, such as addiction, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. A research team at the University of Miami genetically modified the bacteria to produce a large amount of psychoactive psilocybin.
In addition, the team behind this research does claim that this strain can be used to develop "food." Although E. coli food sounds a bit nauseating, we have to wait a long time to know what this future food will look like. The researchers said that the current work is basically just a proof of concept, so the idea of using E. coli to make holiday dinners may take some time.
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