Microbial Factories

Bigger isn’t always better

Humans have relied on microbes for millennia. Yeast brews our beer and raises our bread. Bacteria in our guts keep us healthy. Microscopic phytoplankton in the ocean produce half of the world’s oxygen. Thanks to genetic engineering, technology, and good old evolution, humans are about to enter into a new phase of our ancient partnership. We may soon create bacteria that eat plastic, emit light, and even tell us whether or not we’re healthy. When it comes to microbes, big things come from small packages.

Essay by Rachel Armstrong

Bacteria “R” Us

There is a domain of creatures that diffusively encircles an entire planet. There are so many of them that they occupy every conceivable ecological niche. Yet, despite their countless numbers they are so in tune with their local ecology that they have become an intrinsic part of it. Those that live in rural locations greatly outnumber those that inhabit strange cites, which are gregarious, smart and even have their own personalities.…

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'An alien naturalist might consider humans as little more than smart city housing for bacterial colonies'

Rachel Armstrong

E. Chromi

In 2009, undergraduates at the University of Cambridge worked with scientists and artists to engineer E. coli into E. chromi, a new type of bacteria that secretes a range of colorful pigments.

Bacteria That Eat Waste & Shit Petrol

Energy problem? Why not genetically alter bacteria to have them provide ‘renewable petroleum’. Crude oil is only a few molecular stages removed from the acids normally excreted by yeast or E. coli during fermentation, it does not take much fiddling to get the desired result.…

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Evolutionary Janitors

We normally think of polluted water as the source of disease, not the cure for it. The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, affectionately known as the Super Fun Superfund, is one of the most polluted bodies of water in America. Most of the water is too low in oxygen to support plant or animal life.…

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Live with Micro-Algae

The Eco Pod is a experimental design proposal towards the production of clean and renewable energy, which should operate in old, abandoned buildings. Pending an eventual recovery, these buildings become vertical bioreactor that supports micro-algae which produce energy for the city.…

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