Everyone loves a good cup of joe, including our friendly neighbourhood bacteria Pseudomonas putida CBB5. This microbe can consume caffeine with the best of us, a talent that could help heart arrhythmia and asthma patients.
This caffeine fiend takes a molecule of the stimulant and uses an enzyme to break it down into carbon dioxide and ammonia. A team of researchers from University of Iowa isolated the gene responsible for this caffeine-digesting protein and have cloned it into E.Coli.
Now that it's in E. Coli, this enzyme can be produced mass produced for pharmaceuticals or other industries. It could be used in medicines to increase blood flow, treat heart arrhythmia, or help patients with asthma. It could also be used by coffee manufacturers to clean up excess caffeine left over from the decaffeination process. All this from an itty bitty microbe found in a flowerbed. [Scientific American via PC World; Image from Andrey Armyagov/Shutterstock]