Our team, Botchan Lab. Tokyo is going to create Escherichia coli
which can fix nitrogen. We came up this idea from one interesting episode of Papuan people. They live in New Guinea and their main food is tubers, especially taro. Despite their low-protein meals, they are very muscular and healthy. How they get protein was one of the most mysterious things about them for a long time. Then, Japanese scientist Tomotari Mitsuka investigated their excrements in order to research their intestinal bacteria and he found that Papuan people have much more two nitrogen fixation bacteria, Klebsiella
, in their intestinal flora than other people in the world. Then he shows one hypothesis. Papuan people may take in nitrogen gas from the air and convert it into proteins by using nitrogen fixation bacteria in their intestinal flora and get proteins from them. As we see this episode, we thought that “If everyone in the world as well as Papuan people can do nitrogen fixation at their intestine, that means we can eat air! That’s interesting!” So, we decided to create Papuan model, which make our dream, “eating air”, comes true.
Here we introduce our project. We introduced nifBHDKENhesAnifV genes and Glutamic acids dehydrase gene and Phenylalanine dehydrase gene into E.coli. We want to confirm if E.coli can take in nitrogen gas from the air, convert it into ammonia, and then convert it into two amino acids, Glutamic acid and Phenylalanine. We are going to check this by using gas chromatography and auto radiography.
Our future vision of this model is putting our engineered E.coli into our intestinal flora and be able to synthesize amino acids from air. We hope that our project will solve the problem of protein-energy malnutrition by adding the ability of creating proteins just by breathing, boost patients’ immunity, and lower the mortality rate in developing countries.