The Bacteria That Only Consumes CO2 and What It Means for Climate Change

With the ever-growing concern for climate change and the exponentially increasing carbon emissions, it has become a mission to find new ways to provide sustainable and renewable energy. In the world of synthetic biology, the challenge has been to engineer bacteria that can consume CO2 and convert it into biomass. In a paper published in Cell last week, researchers at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, have taken great steps towards solving this problem.

They report to have rewired the metabolic mechanisms of E. Coli, which generally use sugar as a source of energy. They evolved the bacteria over several months to engineer it to only consume CO2, and use it to produce the fuel and biomass needed for its own survival.

Unfortunately, however, due to the way in which the bacteria form their energy, there is currently a net positive production of CO2. In other words, the engineered bacteria produce more carbon than they consume. While this means that there is still more to be investigated, it also demonstrates that it is possible to engineer such a bacterium as previously envisioned. This research will be a great stepping stone for what is to come in the world of renewable energy.


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