A new paper from Harvard presents an interesting development: The bacteriumVibrio natriegens grows considerably quicker than E. coli, which has been used for all manner of biological research from DNA studies to learning more about strains that make antibiotics.
What this could mean: Cutting down the time geneticists spend on routine investigations could, essentially, mean that researches could get twice as much research work done in the same amount of time if using the new bacterium.
V. natriegens comes from the mud of a salt marsh, and it has a reputation as a speedy grower. It doubles in number every 10 minutes—compared to 20 minutes for E. coli in ideal growth conditions. But V. natriegens needs to do more than grow fast to be useful, and that’s where E. coli has the incumbent advantage. “Over the course of a hundred years of intense study, we have a huge amount of information about the organism, more than any other on Earth,” saysAdam Arkin, a biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the study.
According to a study published by the American Society for Microbiology, V. natriegens is recognized as “one of the fastest-dividing organisms currently known, with a documented doubling time of 9.8 min (5). This is a growth rate that requires an extremely high rate of protein synthesis, which is accommodated by a higher rRNA gene dose, increases in ribosome numbers, strong rRNA promoters.”
Only time will tell whether this upstart of a microorganism will live up to its hype and significantly change the research landscape.