Talk about a caffeine addiction: Scientists have genetically modified a strain of E. coli bacteria to live only on the stuff that puts the jolt in your cup of joe.
Their idea was to create bacteria that could be used in wastewater treatment. It turns out that our nation’s love of all things caffeinated is leading to increased levels of the stimulant turning up in bodies of water, such as the Pacific Ocean and Boston Harbor.
And while researchers aren’t exactly sure what effect caffeine is having on the ecosystem, they have found it can stress out mussels, leading them to believe it could have widespread repercussions on the food chain.
The scientists hope the modified E. coli will not only scrub caffeine pollution from wastewater, but can be used to produce medications and to measure the amount of caffeine in beverages.
So if you start to feel guilty the next time you crave caffeine, take heart: there’s something out there that craves it even more.