A homage to E. coli, superstar model organism

1 October 2016
What immediately springs to mind when you read the words ‘model organism’? Most of us would shout fruit flies, Arabidopsis, rats and mice, or yeast. Yet, we often forget the one modest organism that paved the way for all the previous ones: Escherichia coli, a bacterium that lives in intestines.

Actually, E. coli was one of the very first model systems for molecular biology. Discovered in 1885
by Theodor Escherich, it has been commonly used in experiments ever since. Thanks to its fast growth and reproduction rates – it doubles in quantity every twenty minutes! – E. coli just as quickly proved itself a lab champion.

The foundation of biotechnology
The very essence of a model organism is that it provides insights into the workings of other organisms – something E. coli did con brio! We owe it nearly everything we know about prokaryotic genetics and molecular biology, like gene regulation, bacterial conjugation, transduction, and much more. So let’s give E. coli the credit it deserves, as one of the heroes of modern biotechnology.

Go back to the front page: 'No model, no research: why models are at the core of VIB science'

 E. coli