Next steps

β€œIt's kind of fun to do the impossible!” – Walt Disney

Edible coli is an innovative idea with a big potential to be put into practice as a food source in the future. Results indicate that our bacteria are expressing the self designed protein, which was a major part of the project. But to complete the development of all our project ideas, and create a fully fledged Edible coli, the following points must be fulfilled.

  • UPR (unfolded protein response) mechanisms must be studied further. A result from one of our Western Blot experiments showed a band that fits with the length of a protease, which means that it might be expressed during the expression of our OneProt.
  • Transform OneProt into an odorfree strain. Further analysis of the growth of the bacteria, to be compared with the growth curve of wild type K12 MG1655 strain Escherichia coli expressing OneProt.
  • Isolate and purify Δ9 and Δ15 desaturases and transform them into Edible coli for ω3 and ω6 fatty acid synthesis.
  • Characterize and analyze the flavor improvements.
  • Transform cellulases into Edible coli, so the bacteria will be able to break down cellulose to glucose and use cellulose as a carbon source.

We thought about many other potentials of Edible coli. It would be great to design a bacteria that expresses different amounts of the individual amino acids and fats, which would be regulated individually and customized to the need of the consumer. To get an even more nourishing product Edible coli might also produce vitamins and minerals.

Furthermore, the bacteria might have a safety mechanism which kills the cell if it escapes to the environment. For that reason, knockout bacteria might be used. When all ribozymes are knocked out and only incorporated in the plasmid, the bacteria will die when it loses its plasmid. This is also a good way to select without the use of antibiotics.

Eating bacteria has been the major ethical issue during our design and development of Edible coli. This led us to the idea of transferring our system into another organism, like for example yeast that is accepted as food, although it is a living organism. Unfortunately yeast does not include all amino acid pathways, which makes it difficult to transform all essential enzymes.

In addition, it might be a good idea to transfer our system into eukaryotic cells and study the growth and morphology of the cells over time, to see if the system is toxic or if it has any influence on the cells at all.