Glowing E. coli invention by Undergraduate Researchers

Bacteria are experiencing a boon as of late. Just recently it is known that microorganisms have been used to make a better sunscreen. Seems to be wao! Isn’t it? Another bright idea comes from young scientists who are using bacteria as the key ingredient in a biological light bulb that requires no electricity. Then what about this?

The Original Picture of the plate glowing with engineered E. coli cells

Three undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, came out with the so-called Biobulb from a genetically engineered species of E. coli bacteria (the kind living inside the intestines of humans and other animals). Normally it is obvious that these bacteria don’t glow in the dark, but researchers with their research plan introduced a loop of DNA to the microbes that will give them the genes for bioluminescence. The bacteria will glow like lightning jellyfish, bugs and bioluminescent plankton.
“The Biobulb is essentially a closed ecosystem in a jar,” biochemistry major Michael Zaiken said. “It’s going to contain several different species of microorganisms, and each organism plays a role in the recycling of vital nutrients that each of the other microbes need to survive.”[1]
Those microorganisms feed the E. coli, which will be retrofitted with a new genetic circuit to provide the code for a set of proteins that Zaiken says will “recruit, use and recycle cellular fuel” to emit light. It’s kind of like making a terrarium inside a small light bulb. Zaiken says the bulb could be recharged by ambient light sources found around the house during the day. The idea is that such light would feed the microorganisms that feed the E.coli, keeping them alive and repeatedly glowing for days, or even months.

Researchers say they plan on experimenting with different bioluminescence proteins to determine which species’ native genes produce the best glow. ”We also plan to experiment with techniques to combat mutation in the plasmid, different colored light emission, and different triggers for the activation of the glowing bacteria.”[1]

Meet The Project Leader: Alexandra Cohn

Source: Discovery News[1]