Suicide Microbes


Cyanobacteria, the photosynthesizing bacteria, are better biofuel sources than plants. But extracting the high-energy fats from them is difficult because they have a nearly impenetrable cell wall that is designed to protect them from harsh conditions. A team placed a host of genes, from its enemy the bacteriophage, into the bacteria. The genes triggered a self-destructing pattern making the bacteria burst like balloons and release the stored products. These bacteria also form the unrelenting pond scum. Getting them to self-destruct might have hope for the water bodies too. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


Down To Earth, January 2010