In the not so distant future, you may be pumping E. coli into your gas tank.
Collaborating with researchers from Harvard, Desmond Lun, an associate professor of computer science at Rutgers University–Camden, is manipulating models of E. coli in an attempt to restructure this microorganism. The hope is to find a design that results in the overproduction of fatty acids which can be used to create biodiesel.
Quoted in Rutgers Today, Lun states that “Biodiesel is something that we can generate quite easily. E. coli has been used as a lab organism for more than 60 years and it’s well-studied. We know a lot about its genetics and how to manipulate it. We’ve got to make quite drastic changes to do it and it requires major intervention.” Hopefully that also means they won’t ‘accidentally’ mutate E. coli into some self-conscience organism that takes control of your vehicle, or worse, your body!
With the development of biofuels, creating ethanol out of corn or other food sources has not been very sustainable due to the high cost of business and the competition it creates with other food sources. If we can modify a bacteria like E. coli into biofuels, imagine how, with the right funding, we can redesign the entire concept of car manufacturing.