Skip to content

Category: bacteria

Genetically modified yeast mops up heavy metal pollution

Environmental scientists dream of eliminating pollution with natural resources, but that's tricky when it comes to heavy metals. Plants won't work for cleaning polluted water, and only some of them grow large enough to absorb those toxic materials. Researchers may have a relatively simple answer to the problem, though: genetically engineered baker's yeast. Their modified organism uses a cell membrane 'anchor,' and peptides that bind with metals like cadmium, copper and nickel to absorb their ions. The result? The best yeast strains can mop up 80 percent of metal ions without nasty effects -- you'd just have to scoop up the yeast after a cleanup operation.

Right now, the eco-friendly yeast is limited to the lab. Researchers still have to find the best way to harvest and get rid of the yeast, and they also need to test in a real-world environment to prove that it works. With that said, it's easy to imagine response crews using this tweaked yeast to remove most traces of pollution near quarries, water treatment plants and other places where heavy metals are an all-too-familiar part of the landscape.

Via: Reddit

Source: ACSH, Springer

Comments closed

Google’s life sciences unit is releasing 20 million bacteria-infected mosquitoes in Fresno

 Verily, the life science’s arm of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has hatched a plan to release about 20 million lab-made, bacteria-infected mosquitos upon Fresno, California — and that’s a good thing! You see, the Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito is prevalent in the area. Earlier this year, a woman contracted the first confirmed case of Zika in Fresno through… Read More Comments closed

Verily’s answer to Fresno’s mosquito woes is 20 million more

Last year, executives of Alphabet's life science arm, Verily, discussed a project aimed at controlling invasive mosquito populations, the results of which are now going into effect. To combat the mosquito species that carries viruses like Zika and dengue, the company will release a ton of bacteria-infected male mosquitoes in Fresno, California where they should drastically bring down numbers of wild mosquitoes.

When female mosquitoes mate with males infected with the bacteria Wolbachia pipientis, the resulting eggs aren't viable. However, females also infected with the bacteria can produce offspring after mating with infected males, and wild mosquitoes of both sexes are found to be infected in some regions of the country. However, because the bacteria isn't found in wild populations around Fresno and because the males can't transfer the bacteria to females, enough infected males and enough time should render the invasive species moot.

Starting now, Verily will release one million mosquitoes per week for 20 weeks in two Fresno neighborhoods as part of its Debug project. The company developed automated mass mosquito production and sex-sorting technology, allowing for much larger release efforts. These mosquitos are not genetically modified, though last year the FDA did approve the use of genetically modified mosquitoes to fight Zika, and male mosquitoes don't bite, so no worries, Fresno residents.

In a blog post, Verily said, "For the Debug team at Verily, moving our work from the laboratory to the field is not only an important milestone for our group of biologists, engineers, and automation experts, but it's also a critical step in bringing our long-term vision to reality. Field studies allow us to test our discoveries and technologies in challenging, real-world conditions and collect the necessary evidence to bring them to a broader scale."

Source: Verily

Comments closed

Verily’s answer to Fresno’s mosquito woes is 20 million more

Last year, executives of Alphabet's life science arm, Verily, discussed a project aimed at controlling invasive mosquito populations, the results of which are now going into effect. To combat the mosquito species that carries viruses like Zika and dengue, the company will release a ton of bacteria-infected male mosquitoes in Fresno, California where they should drastically bring down numbers of wild mosquitoes.

When female mosquitoes mate with males infected with the bacteria Wolbachia pipientis, the resulting eggs aren't viable. However, females also infected with the bacteria can produce offspring after mating with infected males, and wild mosquitoes of both sexes are found to be infected in some regions of the country. However, because the bacteria isn't found in wild populations around Fresno and because the males can't transfer the bacteria to females, enough infected males and enough time should render the invasive species moot.

Starting now, Verily will release one million mosquitoes per week for 20 weeks in two Fresno neighborhoods as part of its Debug project. The company developed automated mass mosquito production and sex-sorting technology, allowing for much larger release efforts. These mosquitos are not genetically modified, though last year the FDA did approve the use of genetically modified mosquitoes to fight Zika, and male mosquitoes don't bite, so no worries, Fresno residents.

In a blog post, Verily said, "For the Debug team at Verily, moving our work from the laboratory to the field is not only an important milestone for our group of biologists, engineers, and automation experts, but it's also a critical step in bringing our long-term vision to reality. Field studies allow us to test our discoveries and technologies in challenging, real-world conditions and collect the necessary evidence to bring them to a broader scale."

Source: Verily

Comments closed

Researchers encode a movie onto living bacteria

Forget USB drives and the cloud -- what if you could carry every bit of data you've ever used on your skin? That's the long-term goal of researchers at Harvard Medical School, who have stored a video in the DNA of bacteria. It's the first time a video has been recorded into living cells, as opposed to synthetic material.

The team inserted a short animated image of 'The Horse in Motion' (one of the earliest moving images ever created) into E. coli, using gene-editing system CRISPR. The movie was split into five frames, and each frame chopped into single-colored pixels. They then created DNA codes corresponding to each color and strung them together. Each bacterium carried snippets of the video stored in their DNA, and when taken together, the scientists were able to retrieve and reconstruct the pieces to play the video.

It's not the first time we've seen data stored in this fashion. Back in 2003 a small message was encoded into DNA, and more recently we've seen a full operating system written into DNA strands. One team is even trying to store poetry in DNA. But this is the first time it's been attempted with living bacteria, rather than synthetic material, which presents a unique set of challenges. Live cells are constantly moving and changing, and are liable to interpret the addition of data to their DNA as an invading virus, and subsequently destroy it. That's why, shaky and blurred as it is, this movie breaks new ground.

The world is generating huge amounts of digital data, and scientists see DNA as an effective way of not only dealing with the volumes produced, but as a secure method of preservation. In the face of nuclear explosions, radiation exposure or extreme temperature fluctuation some bacteria can continue to exist -- data centers will not.

It'll be some time before you can use this technology to upload data into your body, but in the meantime it has valuable research applications. The scientists behind the study hope the breakthrough will eventually lead to the creation of "living sensors" that can record what is happening inside a cell or in its environment.

Via: Stat News

Source: Nature (PDF)

Comments closed
%d bloggers like this: