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Scientists Develop Carbon Dioxide Eating Bacteria, A New Hope For Climate Emergency?

Carbon dioxide is essential to the survival of plants and animals. However, excessive levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be extremely harmful, not just for the atmosphere but also for your health. Regarded as being the major cause of climate crisis, carbon dioxide level variations in the atmosphere leads to climatic temperature-changes.

The CO2 blanket formed as a layer in the atmosphere prevents the escape of sun rays, where the trapped radiation warms up the atmosphere - resulting in the well-known greenhouse effect. Numerous studies have been conducted on reducing the impact of the gas on atmosphere, with many failing to develop a solution.

In a recent study conducted by a group of researchers in Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel have developed a new bacterial strain that can allegedly consume carbon dioxide for energy instead of complex organic compounds [1] . Let's read on to know more about the study and its findings.

The Researchers Converted E.coli To CO2 Eating Bacteria

Published in the journal Cell, the researchers converted the bacterium Escherichia coli (E.coli) to a carbon dioxide consuming autotrophic strain. The plan to convert it to an autotrophic organism was rooted in the fact that autotrophic organisms dominated the biomass on the Earth, supplying much of the planet's food and fuels [2] .

The researchers had engineered industrially relevant heterotrophic model organisms to use carbon dioxide as the sole food source, which had failed, prompting the researchers to rewire the metabolism of lab-grown E. coli to produce strains that were autotrophs.

The sugar consuming E.coli bacteria which then releases carbon dioxide were reprogrammed by the group of scientists, where they mapped the genes that are essential for the study process and added some of them to the bacteria genome in their lab.

New Strain Of Bacteria Is Critical For Earth's Sustainability

The researchers are already focusing on developing an understanding of the principles of autotrophic growth, as well as methods to enhance the process, as it can be critical for the Earth's sustainability in the age of a human-driven climate crisis [3] [4] .

It was asserted that the healthy habits of these bacteria may prove to be mostly healthy for the earth.

"When we started the directed evolutionary process, we had no clue as to our chances of success, and there were no precedents in the literature to guide or suggest the feasibility of such an extreme transformation. In addition, seeing, in the end, the relatively small number of genetic changes required to make this transition was surprising," said the head researcher [5] .

On A Final Note...

One of the limitations about the study, as asserted by the researchers was that the consumption of formate by bacteria released more carbon dioxide than that was consumed through carbon fixation. They also pointed out that more research is required to ascertain the industrial application of the new strain of bacteria.

View Article References
  1. [1] Gleizer, S., Ben-Nissan, R., Bar-On, Y. M., Antonovsky, N., Noor, E., Zohar, Y., ... & Milo, R. (2019). Conversion of Escherichia coli to generate all biomass carbon from CO2. Cell, 179(6), 1255-1263.
  2. [2] Holmes, B., Paddock, M. B., VanderGheynst, J. S., & Higgins, B. T. (2019). Algal photosynthetic aeration increases the capacity of bacteria to degrade organics in wastewater. Biotechnology and bioengineering.
  3. [3] Mushtaq, M., Banks, C. J., & Heaven, S. (2019). Evaluation of pressurised carbon dioxide pre-treatment aimed at improving the sanitisation and anaerobic digestibility of co-settled sewage sludge. Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A, 54(3), 261-268.
  4. [4] Alcover, N., Carceller, A., Álvaro, G., & Guillén, M. (2019). Zymobacter palmae pyruvate decarboxylase production process development: Cloning in Escherichia coli, fed‐batch culture and purification. Engineering in Life Sciences, 19(7), 502-512.
  5. [5] Orlando, A. (2019, November 27). Scientists Just Created a Bacteria That Eats CO2 to Reduce Greenhouse Gases. Retrieved from, https://www.discovermagazine.com/environment/scientists-just-created-a-bacteria-that-eats-co2-to-reduce-greenhouse-gases
Read more about: climate
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