Presented by Kevin Bonham
Single-celled microorganisms are everywhere, and are intimately linked to many aspects of our life. Some can cause disease, others decompose our waste, and many even help us digest our food – there are 10 times more bacteria cells in your body than human cells! But in the last few decades, scientists have been learning how to tinker with these tiny life forms to turn them into factories. From fuel to drugs, scientists are coaxing the cells of microbes to make useful molecules.
From bacteria to yeast to humans, all life on Earth uses DNA to encode instructions for making proteins. Some of these proteins, like human insulin, can be used to treat disease. Other proteins are molecular machines that catalyze chemical reactions to produce useful molecules like the antibiotic penicillin, or ethanol that can be used as a fuel source. Tonight, Kevin is going to explain how scientists can move genetic codes from one organism to another so that we can produce these molecules more easily.