Why E. coli?

Part of the Biological and Medical Physics, Biomedical Engineering book series (BIOMEDICAL)


E. coli (Escherichia coli) is a bacterium that lives in your gut. It is one of the simplest and best understood living things, yet remarkably sophisticated. Fossil remains of bacteria are found in rocks that are billions of years old. Thus, creatures of E. coli’s kind are a thousand times older than we are. Yet we are closely related. E. coli stores genetic information in the same way that we do, reads that information in the same way, and synthesizes the same kinds of molecular tools for carrying out basic cellular functions. Many of the enzymes (catalytic proteins) designed for harvesting energy or crafting molecular building blocks have nearly identical structures. Thus, a number of early solutions to life’s problems found by bacteria have been passed down to us.


Olfactory Cortex Fossil Remains Basic Cellular Function Molecular Building Block Catalytic Protein 
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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2004

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