Science

Bacteria Used In Many Things

Bacteria Used In Many Things

Scientists have discovered a way of using bacteria to provide graphene – a nanomaterial composed of a single layer of carbon atoms with extraordinary properties. Graphene is powerful, flexible and conductive with the potential to revolutionize electronics, however using it has remained tough. “For actual purposes, you want large amounts,” says Prof Anne S Meyer, of the University of Rochester, New York. Her team have used a bacterium known as Shewenella to supply massive quantities of thinner, extra stable graphene. After the disaster of the BP oil spill in 2010, scientists noticed many species of bacteria that broke down the oil, including one previously unknown to science. The oil spill was the biggest in historical past, dumping nearly 5m barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The bacteria that feasted on the oil compounds performed an instrumental function in reducing the impact of the spill and might be used in any future disasters happen. At the University of Edinburgh, scientists have produced a low-price biosensor which makes use of bacteria to detect unsafe levels of arsenic in drinking water. Arsenic contamination is a health risk to thousands of individuals worldwide, inflicting cancer, and death. The bacteria are genetically engineered to fluoresce within the presence of arsenic, with the biosensor attaching to a smartphone, which shows a simple, readable sample to indicate the levels of the element. In 2016, Japanese scientists recognized a species of bacterium that feeds on PET – the plastic used to make disposable drink bottles.