When we think of bacteria, we remember biology lessons. There we were told bacterias are microorganisms and the first life forms to appear on Earth. We also know some of them are used in milk fermentation. Others are used in medicine to create antibiotics. None of us would think of the connection between a light bulb and bacteria. When we say light bulb we think of incandescent, fluorescent, halogen, neon, LED and other types. When the two notions are put together the combination is the biobulb.
The biobulb is a biologic lamp. It has light-emitting bacteria inside it. This project belongs to thee undergraduate students from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Biochemistry major Michael Zaiken described their project as a closed ecosystem kept in a jar. The biobulb will contain several types of microorganisms: each one will play a certain role in the recycling of vital nutriments.
The species that has glowing properties is a genetically modified version of Escherichia coli. This is a bacteria that grows inside animal and human intestines. Although the bacteria doesn’t normally glow, Michael Zaiken and his two colleagues Alexandra Cohn (a genetics and philosophy double-major) and Ana Elise Beckman (a neurobiology and anthropology double-major) plan to modify the microorganism’s DNA. In this way, by adding a loop, they will give the bacteria luminescent properties.
The biobulb will not need any type of electricity. By creating an ecosystem in a jar, each microorganism will sustain the other. In turn, this will help the glowing bacteria survive for days or even months. Biobulb is not available yet. The team is still researching which genes are best. They also need to know what caretaking methods are necessary. The biobulb will be more than an innovative form of light. It will also cast a positive light on synthetic biology.
Do you think the biobulb and the use of synthetic biology to provide lighting solutions could decrese electricity bills in the future?
(Main source and images’ source: Biobulb project’s RocketHub page )
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