What do we know about oil-degrading bacteria?

16 May 2010

Question

What do we know about oil-degrading bacteria?

Answer

We put this question to Dr Jim Haseloff, from Cambridge University:

Chris - A very pertinent question with what's going on in the Gulf of Mexico of course.

Jim - Yes and one of the first patented organisms (and that's another controversial issue, whether you can patent things) was a microbe that had improved oil degradation properties and so, clearly, the appeal of synthetic biology approaches is that you can take some of the diversity that you find in the natural world and transfer that into organisms for more specific purposes.

Chris - In other words, to turn bacteria into things that can eat oil and therefore help with their clean up.

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