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Like a College Student Pulling an All-Nighter

If you think you can't live without caffeine, take a look at the newly-described bacteria, Pseudomonas putida CBB5, says Katherine Harmon at the Scientific American Observations blog. These organisms feed on pure caffeine, University of Iowa researchers say, by using specialized enzymes to break it up into carbon dioxide and ammonia. The researchers, who presented their work at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, found these bacteria in a flowerbed on the university's campus, Harmon says. They say it's not surprising the organisms feed on caffeine given its presence in the environment. The team hopes the discovery of this specialized enzyme could eventually be used to develop new medications to treat heart arrhythmias or asthma, or boost blood flow, Harmon says.