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Scientists engineer E. coli bacteria to absorb CO2

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While most people know E. coli as a bacteria that can cause intestinal distress, the bacteria also has potential for a variety of positive applications — including absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. In pursuit of doing just that, scientists have engineered a new strain of E. coli that can eat CO2. If successful, this discovery could reduce CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, which would help curb the global temperature rise.

The study, led by Ron Milo, a systems biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, was recently published in the journal Cell after about 10 years of work put in by Milo and his team. As reported by Nature, Milo and the team utilized both laboratory evolution and genetic engineering to develop a new strain of E. Coli — they engineered the bacteria's genes to convert CO2 into organic carbon, so that the E. Coli can get all the carbon it needs from CO2.