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Exterminator coli: an engineered E. coli to safely eradicate roaches

Many pesticides use neurotoxins that show toxicity not only to insects but also towards other species, including mammals. We therefore set out to construct an E. coli that can safely eradicate cockroaches but not affect mammals.

Cockroaches and many other insects store their energy in the form of trehalose and use the enzyme trehalase to convert it to glucose when needed. Our engineered E. coli will overexpress the enzymes OtsA and OtsB to produce trehalose, and glucose-3-dehydrogenase to convert trehalose to 3,3’-diketotrehalose, an inhibitor of trehalase that is not toxic for mammals. Our engineered Exterminator coli will help eradicate roaches from homes without harming humans or pets.