Move Over, E. coli?
Escherichia coli was discovered over 130 years ago and has become the dominant model organism for microbiology, genetics, gene function and protein expression analysis and proteomics. In the past few decades it has become a workhorse in producing therapeutic recombinant proteins and antibodies, accounting for over 90% of bacterial bioprocessing. Reasons for this include its simple growth conditions, its loss of pathogenicity, the expansive understanding of its genetics and biochemistry (including full genome sequencing) and its fast doubling time of 20 minutes.
Recently, a group from Harvard, led by George Church, has pushed to replace E. coli with an alternate species, Vibrio natriegens. The chief reason for this change is the very fast doubling time of V. natriegens, as little as 10 minutes. They claim that for many experiments 90% of experimental time is due to bacterial growth. V. natriegens could potentially cut this in half. Other reasons for the change include complete genome sequencing, CRISPR technology and the ability to grow on cheap growth media. The group is currently analyzing gene mutants to see if even faster doubling times are possible.
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