Biomedical engineering

“Synthetic Biologists” [?] re-engineer bacteria to give them novel functions.

Techniques called experimental evolution rapidly track changes in DNA, attempting genetically engineer bacteria to churn out high concentrations of ethanol and other useful chemicals such as new antibiotis.

Bacteria such as E. coli evolve relatively quickly: they divide rapidly and sloppily, passing on error-filled copies of their genetic information to the next generation. For example:

When E. coli was provided only glycerol for nutrition, which the microbes do not metabolize very well, the cells grew slowly at first. But after 20 days, they grew 150 percent faster, and at 44 days they were thriving. Those that were more fit for the environment took over the culture…

agnet via MIT