Home > Diet and nutrition > News 28 March 2013 The first caffeine-'addicted' bacteria Some people may joke about living on caffeine, but scientists now have genetically engineered E. coli bacteria to do that — literally. EurekAlert 0 iStock Related Tea, coffee, or cocaine? Are you high on caffeine? Possible link between coffee and death Vit & Min doses per day » Count calories in food » Is my vegetarian diet balanced? » Ask The Dietitians » 10 foods to boost your immune system Your quick guide to Banting Their report in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology describes bacteria being "addicted" to caffeine in a way that promises practical uses ranging from decontamination of waste water to bio-production of medications for asthma.Jeffrey E. Barrick and colleagues note that caffeine and related chemical compounds have become important water pollutants due to widespread use in coffee, soda pop, tea, energy drinks, chocolate and certain medications. These include prescription drugs for asthma and other lung diseases. The scientists knew that a natural soil bacterium, Pseudomonas putida CBB5, can actually live solely on caffeine and could be used to clean up such environmental contamination. So they set out to transfer genetic gear for metabolizing, or breaking down, caffeine from P. putida into that old workhorse of biotechnology, E. coli, which is easy to handle and grow.The study reports their success in doing so, as well as use of the E. coli for decaffeination and measuring the caffeine content of beverages. It describes development of a synthetic packet of genes for breaking down caffeine and related compounds that can be moved easily to other microbes. When engineered into certain E. coli, the result was bacteria literally addicted to caffeine.The genetic packet could have applications beyond environmental remediation, the scientists say, citing potential use as a sensor to measure caffeine levels in beverages, in recovery of nutrient-rich byproducts of coffee processing and for the cost-effective bioproduction of medicines. NEXT ON HEALTH24X 7 healthy swaps for everyday foods and drinks 2020-01-15 14:15 More: Diet and nutritionNews advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Medical Why many children with autism have oral health problems Medical Is that statin doing you any good? News Meet Salome Maswime, the trailblazing woman appointed as UCT’s new head of Global Surgery Medical THE REAL POLLEN COUNT: Invasive, highly allergenic weed is still being seen in Durban, although at very low levels Medical WATCH: Chinese coronavirus 'not yet' a global emergency, says WHO Medical Scientists trace coronavirus outbreak to snakes Live healthier Lifestyle » E-cigarettes: Here are five things to know E-cigarettes have become hugely popular in the past decade, but a rash of vaping-linked deaths and illnesses in the US is feeding caution about a product that's already banned in some places. Allergy » Ditch the itch: Researchers find new drug to fight hives A new drug works by targeting an immune system antibody called immunoglobulin E, which is responsible for the allergic reaction that causes hives.