Washington, May 25: A student researcher at the University of Iowa has discovered a new bacterium, which lives and grows on caffeine by using newly found digestive enzymes to break it.
“We have isolated a new caffeine-degrading bacterium, Pseudomonas putida CBB5, which breaks caffeine down into carbon dioxide and ammonia,” said Ryan Summers.
The study explains that caffeine itself is composed of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen, all of which are necessary for bacterial cell growth.
The caffeine molecule consists of three structures known as methyl groups, composed of 1 carbon and 3 hydrogens atoms. The bacterium is able to effectively remove these methyl groups (a process known as N-demethylization) and essentially live on caffeine.
Summers and his colleagues have identified the three enzymes responsible for the N-demethylization and the genes that code for these enzymes.
They revealed that using CBB5 enzymes would allow for easier pharmaceutical production, thus lowering their cost. Another potential application is the decaffeination of coffee and tea as an alternative to harsh chemicals currently used. (ANI)