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The Scary Truth About E. Coli... and Why It's Good!

>> Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Escherichia coli, or E. coli as most know it, is bacteria that lives in our lower intestines. It exists in MOST warm blooded animals lower intestines, most strains are harmless (like the ones in our gut) but a few strains make us sick causing food poisoning. The ones that exist in our guts actually make vitamin K for us. On another down, E. Coli is responsible for 90% of all UTIs. Eww, I know. However, their metabolic cycle is so simple compared to ours that geneticists love them.

Knowing what we (collectively, because I didn't till a few hours ago) know about DNA synthesis, scientists can create short gene sequences and plug them into preexisting genomes. Some scientists did this with our lovely E. Coli and created a strain the litterally poops oil. One of my favorite scientists (who worked on the Human Genome) project did a talk about this recently.



I'm not too keen on this however, despite being a Craig fan, because I am of the belief that we need to move away from oil as an energy source and move to something cleaner. Also, I get a bit weirded out by creating life synthetically. So what do you all think?


Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

3 comments:

ScientistMother August 19, 2008 at 9:11 PM  

Thanks for delurking! its always great to find out who's reading. Looking forward to getting to know you!:)

Cheryl August 20, 2008 at 2:33 AM  

Hi Mimi....

Looking at it purely from an environmental and health point of view.......I agree we need to move away from oil, I am not clever enough to know the answers but I am sure there is someone out there who will manage to come up with something.....

As for synthetics I try to avoid them as much as possible.....at home I try to use everything as natural AS POSSIBLE....I think there is a big question mark over synthetics and health......

Mimi August 20, 2008 at 7:51 AM  

@ cheryl... I agree. I especially don't like synthetic LIFE. I mean we all have natural predators and prey, but a new strain of E. Coli? What will it become? Bacteria mutate so quickly! It makes me nervous.

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