Scientists Genetically Engineer E. Coli Bacteria to Live on Caffeine

Posted on March 27, 2013

Scientists have genetically engineered E. coli bacteria to live only on caffeine. The research was conducted by scientists from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Iowa. The scientists say the caffeine-addicted bacteria could have practical uses, such as decontamination of wastewater, measuring caffeine levels in beverages and the bioproduction of asthma medicine.

The scientists knew that Pseudomonas putida CBB5, a bacteria found naturally in the soil, can live solely on caffeine and could be used to clean up environmental contamination. They transfered genetic gear for metabolizing caffeine from P. putida into E. coli, which is easy to handle and grow. The scientists say in a release that the genetically engineered bacteria is "literally addicted to caffeine."

The research report was published here in ACS Synthetic Biology.

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