New Strain of Bacteria Literally Lives Off Caffeine?

Senior Contributor
05.26.11

Usually when we talk about bacteria, they’re doing something horrible: stripping the flesh from your bones, giving you explosive diarrhea, or otherwise something vile. Fortunately, this bacteria does something nerds find adorable: it literally lives off of caffeine.

It’s worth explaining that caffeine has carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen, aka the building blocks of life. What this bacteria does is fairly simple: strips caffeine of its methyl groups (one carbon and three hydrogens), turning them into carbon dioxide and ammonia, and also getting some energy out of the proceedings.

What’s this useful for? Well, decaffeinating things, obviously, but the enzymes involved could also be useful for asthma and blood treatments. But mostly for funny headlines about “living off caffeine.”

[ via the tea drinkers at Geekosystem ]

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