Friday, June 3, 2011

My Microscopic Soulmate

I always thought I was a big coffee drinker. I've drank so much of it in the last five years that I can now spend a whole evening drinking it non-stop and still fall asleep at regular hours (regular for me, mind you). At times, like many friends in a similar position, I have joked that I could live on caffeine.

Little did I know, my caffeine consumption is a real joke compared to Pseudomonas Putida CBB5.

Like Watching a Fire

Pseudomonas putida  is a soil bacteria strain that was recently discovered on an University Campus. It has the epic capability of breaking down the caffeine molecule - which is made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygene and hydrogen, the four fundamental organic elements - into dioxide carbon and ammonia. And when it does that? It creates energy.

As humans, when we process caffeine, we break it down into useless part and excrete it through urine. We don't create energy from caffeine (the boost your getting is the molecule's influence on other parts of your system, not actual energy).

This little bugger can live on a caffeine-only diet. It doesn't need anything else to survive, and will thrive in a highly-caffeinated petri dish. We had the dowright scary flesh-eating bacteria. Now we also have the epic caffeine-eating bacteria.

So to Ryan Summers and his team, thank you for discovering my microscopic soulmate.* Now when I drink over 30 oz of coffee over the span of a few hours, I know that on university campuses all over the world, thousands of billions of Pseudomonas putida** CBB5 are doing the same.

*For the record this research has an actual point. The enzyme could be used in treating heart arrhythmias or asthma, or to boost blood flow. They could also help clear out excess caffeine from the process creating decaf coffee.

**I have no actual idea of how common this strain is.

***I like asterixes. I'm also unsure that's their English name (educate me, dear readers!)


  1. I've always found that astrixing me some footnotes makes me feel smarter :-)

  2. You say 'soulmate,' I say competitors for the caffeine.

  3. Sommer: They do have that effect! I like to feel smart, too. ;)

    Hektor: Here's the thing, though: nothing stops you from drinking the coffee they live into. M'hahaha.

  4. That is the coolest thing I've heard all day. I need to switch labs, so I can discover cool shit like that!

  5. Hey, Pseudomonas putida, get your hands off my caffeine! Err, do they have hands? Get your mouths off my caffeine!

    Sidebar is growing! I've been totally lazy with my ms. Stupid rewrite.

  6. Don't want to disappoint, cookie, but I don't think they have mouths either. ;) Which means you're good! Just get more of that caffeine and start writing/rewriting!