Caffeine-'Addicted' Bacteria: Finding May Lead to New Decontamination Methods, New Medicines
Mar. 27, 2013 — Some people may joke about living on caffeine, but scientists now have genetically engineered E. coli bacteria to do that -- literally. Their report in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology describes bacteria being "addicted" to caffeine in a way that promises practical uses ranging from decontamination of wastewater to bioproduction of medications for asthma.
Jeffrey E. Barrick and colleagues note that caffeine and related chemical compounds have become important water pollutants due to widespread use in coffee, soda pop, tea, energy drinks, chocolate and certain medications. These include prescription drugs for asthma and other lung diseases. The scientists knew that a natural soil bacterium, Pseudomonas putida CBB5, can actually live solely on caffeine and could be used to clean up such environmental contamination. So they set out to transfer genetic gear for metabolizing, or breaking down, caffeine from P. putida into that old workhorse of biotechnology, E. coli, which is easy to handle and grow. (...)
Continue reading: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327133523.htm