The word'cyborg' may bring to mind the terrifying robot from the Terminator film. But in a new study, scientists have created a less scary, and much more useful cyborg, by adapting bacteria. The cyborg bacteria are covered in tiny crystals that act as highly efficient solar panels, producing a range of useful compounds, with zero waste. The cyborg bacteria are covered in tiny crystals that act as highly efficient solar panels, producing a range of useful compounds (artist's impression pictured) The team used a type of bacteria called Moorella thermoacetica, which naturally produces acetic acid from carbon dioxide. Acetic acid is a versatile chemical that can be readily converted to a number of fuels, polymers, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.
Researchers have been working on improving the photosynthetic process for some time -- trying to use light to create energy but doing so in a way that's much more efficient than chlorophyll. For plants, chlorophyll works well, but to use photosynthesis to create products like fuels or polymers, we need something that works faster and generates more output. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have come up with a method that does just that and they're presenting their work this week at the National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society. The team did this by using a bacteria that doesn't normally photosynthesize. Instead, it uses carbon dioxide to generate acetic acid -- a chemical that can be used to produce a number of different fuels, polymers and pharmaceuticals.
Genetically modified bacteria might hold the key to reversing climate change by reversing environmental contamination by pollutants. Such bacteria might not only be able to take care of the 300 million tons of plastic produced around the world but even heavy metals such as Cadmium, which is used in nuclear reactors. Read: Are There Aliens On Mars? Common Bacteria Cannot Survive The Surface, So Maybe Not We are producing pollutants at an alarming rate -- according Ben Gurion University scientists, the weight of plastic containers in the ocean might be equal to the weight of fish in it by 2050. This is why some genetically modified bacteria might be the out-of-the-box solution for pollution, which in turn causes climate change by contaminating the environment and might even threaten the survival of mankind. Air-pollution eating and fuel generating bacteria: Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, have genetically reprogrammed bacteria to consume carbon dioxide from environment and produce sugars needed to build its body mass.
Researchers have caught their best glimpse yet into the origins of photosynthesis, one of nature's most momentous innovations. By taking near-atomic, high-resolution X-ray images of proteins from primitive bacteria, investigators at Arizona State University and Pennsylvania State University have extrapolated what the earliest version of photosynthesis might have looked like nearly 3.5 billion years ago. If they are right, their findings could rewrite the evolutionary history of the process that life uses to convert sunlight into chemical energy.
Researchers at Harvard University have created a system that allows them to store the energy of the sun, converting solar energy into chemical energy using a hybrid mechanism of inorganic chemistry and living organisms. Comparing their invention with the natural process of photosynthesis, they refer to it as a "bionic leaf" or "artificial leaf," and they say the level of efficiency they have achieved far exceeds that of other similar systems – including photosynthesis itself. The paper, published Thursday in the journal Science, describes the work as addressing two fundamental goals: storing the energy of the sun, rather than merely converting it for immediate use, and building something useful from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thereby reducing a major greenhouse gas. "I think this is actually quite exciting research," Johannes Lischner of Imperial College, London, who was not involved in the study, tells The Christian Science Monitor in a telephone interview. "Converting sunlight into chemical fuels with high efficiency is something of a holy grail for renewable energy."