Electric E. coli?!

Post 1

Hello, my name is Kody Duhl.  I am a Ph.D. student at Michigan State University studying biochemistry and conducting research in the TerAvest lab.  Over the summer, I will be taking you all along with me as I journey through a brand new research project!  The idea of the project is to make E. coli produce electricity.  Wait, did I just say E. coli and electricity in the same sentence? Yes, and the best part about it is that the E. coli that I will be working with is not harmful at all.  Unfortunately, E. coli has a bad reputation.  Like me, you have probably heard the scary news stories about the things it does (cough, cough….Chipotle), but for biology, it provides a massive amount of research for us to conduct. The cool thing about E. coli is that it allows us to take genes from other organisms and put those genes inside it.  The E. coli will then make the proteins that are encoded in those genes.  This ability is exactly what we want to take advantage of in this project.  Now, there is already a type of bacterium that can produce and electric current, and our plan is to take the genes that allows this bacterium to do so, and put them into E. coli.  Why would we want to do this, you ask?  It’s because we live in a world that is constantly looking for new sources of renewable energy.  Fossil fuels are a limited source of energy and create pollution as a byproduct.  By attempting to make E. coli produce electricity, we are providing the beginning steps to being able to utilize a renewable energy source that will not pollute our beautiful Earth.  So, I hope you all are interested and tag along as I work through this project throughout the summer!  The best thing about it is that I don’t know much about this subject, so you all get a “live look-in” into how we work in a lab, and you’ll be learning about this project at the same time that I am!

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