Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Hungry for Carbon Dioxide

Researchers have developed an Escherichia coli strain that consumes carbon dioxide, Discover magazine reports.

A Weizmann Institute of Science-led team engineered an E. coli strain to take in CO2 to generate biomass. As they report in the journal Cell, the researchers converted the strain from an obligate heterotroph that cannot make its own food to an autotroph that relies on the Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle to derive energy and food using a combination of synthetic biology and lab-based evolution to wean their E. coli strain off sugar and push it to use CO2 instead.

"It sounded impossible at first, but it has taught us numerous lessons along the way, and in the end we showed it indeed can be done," senior author Ron Milo from Weizmann says in a statement. "Our findings are a significant milestone toward our goal of efficient, green scientific applications."

However, the Weizmann team also notes in their paper that the process of growing their strain still leads to a net gain of CO2, though that they view their results as a "stepping stone to future efforts seeking to understand evolutionary transitions and harnessing synthetic biology on the path to more sustainable bioproduction."