E. coli in the lab

E. coli: Friend AND Foe
Escherichia coli is a species of
bacterium commonly found in the
gastro-intestinal tract of warm-blood
animals including humans.
These organisms partake in a
symbiotic relationship with us,
absorbing nutrients and living within
the confines of the gut.
In turn, these bacteria provide us with
some essential nutrients and protect
us from infection.
Some strains of E. coli may invade
bodily tissue and cause infection. The
consumption of spoilt food-products is
often the cause.
Under the Microscope…
These organisms have several
peculiar features:
They are rod-shaped overall.
They contain finger-like pili
structures (‘P’) to sense their
surrounding environment.
They possess flagella (‘F’)
which act as ‘propellers’ to
afford motility.
In the Lab…
E. coli has both industrial and
research applications due to its ease
of growth and manipulation.
Through the use of recombinant DNA
technology, E. coli cells are used to
produce human insulin, vaccines,
antibiotics and other important
pharmaceuticals in industry.
In research, E. coli serves as a
model organism in studies of
pathogens such as Salmonella spp.
due to physiological similarities.