Turning Deadly into Beneficial


Kelly Clarkson sang “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger!” Most of us are familiar with E. coli and the potential for harm it poses. There may be a big benefit from E. coli coming out of research at LSU. Here is their news release: 

Who knew a potentially deadly bacteria could be used for good? 

LSU Mechanical Engineering graduate student Tatiana Mello of Piracicaba, Brazil, is currently working on genetically engineering and optimizing E. coli bacteria to produce bioproducts, like biodiesel, in a cost-effective manner. This undertaking has garnered the attention of many in the engineering and biology fields and has also given her the opportunity to speak about her research at the recent National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in San Diego. 

Mello proposes using E. coli bacteria to expand biodiesel production by creating a new type of feedstock. “The main feedstocks used in the U.S. for biodiesel are soybean and corn oil,” she said. “The actual production is enough to feed us, but you have the surplus that nobody knew what to do with, so biodiesel was created. This market is growing and growing. They expect within a few decades, the surplus won’t be enough to produce biodiesel. E. coli is cheap and abundant, and you can just genetically modify it to fulfill this need.”


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