Neel Joshi, an associate professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Northeastern, came up with a plan, which may sound too fictional to be executed, but is a great step. What Joshi discovered is that living materials, such as bacteria, can be engineered or reprogrammed to improve and then replace substances like plastic, concrete or other such things which are presently made using standard manufacturing processes.
Joshi further explains his idea by giving the example of using microbes for making vitamins, fragrances, pharmaceuticals, and such other useful products. It is not a very complicated process, having been done several times before. Also, this very thing happens in daily life too. The plaque that forms on your teeth is one such occurrence where the bacteria form a layer to protect it. The slime found on rocks is another such example and so is the formation of biofilms. All these are the natural processes that the bacteria take up to adapt itself to its environment.
This idea that Joshi and his team from Northeastern University came up with, was awarded a grand prize in the National Science Foundation’s 2026 Idea Machine competition. The team would achieve a lot if they succeed in executing this plan. It would solve a lot of problems such as environmental pollution, as it would help in replacing plastic. Plastic has become a major problem as it is non-biodegradable and therefore, making it next to impossible to get rid of. Since it was invented, scientists have spent hours to find out a way to recycle and reuse plastic. By introducing such reprogrammed bacteria, this problem can be solved since bacteria are bio-degradable. Anything that is living is going to be more degradable than something that is not. This procedure is after all one of the best gifts that biology has given us. Biology is well-known for its way of converting substances to form another useful substance. This way all the raw materials are used up to its full extent.
Teena Rose Tom