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Science Idle

New Bacterium Lives On Caffeine 121

Posted by timothy
from the like-it-likes-its-women dept.
Kozar_The_Malignant writes "A newly-described species of bacterium, Pseudomonas putida has been found to live on pure caffeine. The little jaspers metabolize caffeine into carbon dioxide and ammonia. They were found living in a flower bed on the University of Iowa campus, not in the drain of an espresso machine as one might expect. The paper presenting the research will be presented at the American Society for Microbiology meeting in New Orleans this month where caffeine metabolism will have to contend with the traditional ethanol metabolism."
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New Bacterium Lives On Caffeine

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  • by toygeek (473120) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @07:15PM (#36234436) Homepage Journal

    But when I ingest caffeine it just makes my pee smell like coffee.

    • by Sene (1794986)
      Maybe you should add asparagus to your coffee to have some variations?
    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      But when I ingest caffeine it just makes my pee smell like coffee.

      Unless of course its tea.

    • by syousef (465911)

      But when I ingest caffeine it just makes my pee smell like coffee.

      Diabetes???

    • by wiedzmin (1269816)
      When I ingest caffeine, it gives me a mother of all heartburns these days. FML.

      The little jaspers metabolize caffeine into carbon dioxide and ammonia.

      That could explain it.

    • Now it will make your post-digestion/kidney-processed coffee smell like ammonia.

  • by tarsi210 (70325) <nathan@nOsPAM.nathanpralle.com> on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @07:16PM (#36234444) Homepage Journal
    Word is they were pretty hard to find at first, on account of them vibrating right off the slide.
    • by Fluffeh (1273756)

      Word is they were pretty hard to find at first, on account of them vibrating right off the slide.

      Hard to find? Don't be silly. I actually think the story is somewhat redundant. These chaps have been vibrating off the slide and finding their way into the IT department for years...

    • by DiEx-15 (959602)
      Iowa is so technologically behind the times, I am surprised they even have a microscope!
  • Pretty soon they'll start infesting coffee and energy drink factories. Then we're really fucked.
    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Actually, if they can get these things to leave... leavings... less offensive than ammonia, this could well be a boon for decaf coffee. Washing the caffeine out without effecting anything else is apparently really difficult.

      • Re:Great (Score:4, Informative)

        by demonlapin (527802) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @09:44PM (#36235508) Homepage Journal
        Methylene chloride does the job quite well, with minimal effect on taste, but some people get scared when they hear that a solvent has touched their coffee beans (never mind that it's long gone). As a result, decaf often is processed by some crappy extraction method. If you can get the real solvent stuff, it's quite good. Heck, you could even make your own... and once you pour off the methylene chloride, you can rotovap it and extract your caffeine for when you need it. (If you've got a liquid nitrogen trap, you can even recover the methylene chloride this way.)
        • Re:Great (Score:4, Funny)

          by X0563511 (793323) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @09:47PM (#36235526) Homepage Journal

          I have a hard enough time even bothering to use my bean grinder!

        • Re:Great (Score:4, Insightful)

          by sjames (1099) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @10:32PM (#36235808) Homepage

          Why would you need a liquid nitrogen trap? Methylene chloride boils at 39 point something C.

          Supercritical CO2 is a good solvent for decaffeination and presents no hazard of residue (even if the process gets screwed up) and better workplace safety.

          • I dunno about the workplace safety bit... supercritical CO2 is pretty high pressure. Not so high as a high pressure scuba tank, but still high enough that I wouldn't want to be around a failing (or more likely improperly closed) pressure vessel.

            On the plus side, though, you can use your pressure vessels to make aerogel if the decaffeination thing doesn't work out...

            • by sjames (1099)

              100 bar is nothing to sneeze at, but employee compliance is simple and there won't be any lawsuits 20 years latter alleging some mysterious link to a laundry list of vague symptoms (or worse, a well documented link to a list of very expensive symptoms). Also a lot less EPA problems.

              • by wings (27310)

                Also a lot less EPA problems.

                Well... maybe until the EPA classifies CO2 as a regulatable pollutant.

          • Wikipedia (quoting the CRC handbook; sorry, but I tossed mine a long time ago) says at -43C it has a vapor pressure of 10 torr, so if you apply a good vacuum you'll need to go colder than that. As someone else pointed out, dry ice and acetone would be just as effective. It's been a long time since I did this; sorry if I made a hash of it.
            • by sjames (1099)

              I would say the bulk of the liquid could be boiled off at near atmospheric pressure (if not actually atmospheric pressure) and then it's easy to condense.

              To extract the remainder from the beans If you want to be quite careful not to cook them, even slightly, you could use a vacuum. I wouldn't go as low as 10 torr though unless you also intend to dehydrate the beans. Dry ice sublimates at -78C so it should do fine by itself. For an industrial process, a mild vacuum and

              I'm using Wikipedia values anyway. I kn

        • I have never understood the point of decaf coffee. It's not the grandest tasting beverage in the world. If you want a drink with no caffeine that tastes a little bitter and has zero calories, try one of the many uncaffeinated varieties of tea. If you want a hot beverage that tastes good, how about hot cider or hot chocolate. If you're just thirsty, drink some water.

          Alright, cue the karma destruction, since I just dissed something about coffee. It's alright, I live in the Pacific Northwest, so I'm used to be

          • by Muad'Dave (255648)

            Some of us really do enjoy the taste of a decent cup of coffee (not the over-roasted, burnt, over-extracted-yet-weak-and-bodiless crap that's currently popular from your neck of the woods). Add a little half-and-half and you've got a lovely little emulsion. I can't take caffeine too late, but decaf with dessert can be just as tasty and satisfying.

    • Well, I don't have much experience with bacteria, but based on my experience with other life forms that live on caffeine... as Baldrick would say, "I have a cunning plan, milord."

      We just need to get them hooked on powerpoint too.Then they'll spend half the day in meetings to decide

      - whether the background should be #C0C0C0 or #C0C0C1,

      - who's to blame for one string being 1 pixel shorter in the browser compared to some mockups done in Photoshop,

      - why can't the application be ready by next week by just adding

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @07:20PM (#36234472)

    It's called the Sales Department.

  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @07:22PM (#36234486) Homepage

    ...are they good programmers?

    • Not really, but they are great at geometric expansion problems

    • Re:But... (Score:5, Funny)

      by MachDelta (704883) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @08:32PM (#36235082)

      No, but they don't need to be. This is the million-monkeys problem: I'm sure a few trillion bacteria would eventually crank out better code than the mouth-breathing jackass two cubicles over.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        No, but they don't need to be. This is the million-monkeys problem: I'm sure a few trillion bacteria would eventually crank out better code than the mouth-breathing jackass two cubicles over.

        In other news, the Indian economy just imploded.

      • by ifrag (984323)
        Perhaps the bacteria can be trained to do code reviews. Then the monkeys work might finally get used.
  • by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @07:34PM (#36234604) Journal

    And what does its close cousin, Pseudomonas Pendejo, live on?

    • by Kozz (7764)

      And what does its close cousin, Pseudomonas Pendejo, live on?

      Just a wild guess, but it's gotta be Tecate, the only Mexican beer I'd seen served in a can (not bottle) so many years back, and the only one I simply could not STAND. But I might be getting it mixed up with Pseudomonas Cabrón.

  • This changes my stance on evolution. Now I am 99.999% certain that I evolved from this particular type of bacteria.
  • by rebelwarlock (1319465) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @07:50PM (#36234752)
    You can't just go around metabolizing people's caffeine and expect no retribution. We need that caffeine to survive boring meetings.
  • Nuuuuuu! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by osu-neko (2604) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @07:51PM (#36234764)
    Kill it! Kill it with fire! It must be stopped! Don't let it take our caffeine!
    • by EnsilZah (575600)

      I'm told for this kind of situation nuking it from orbit has been proved quite effective.

  • They're at a university and they live on caffeine. So they're just like any other university student right?
  • by Bodhammer (559311) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @08:05PM (#36234876)
    If they could just get the metabolism loop the run on caffeine in the daylight and feed into the alcohol metabolism at night I would be in heaven!
    • No, no, no. You don't want to metabolize the alcohol at night - you want to metabolize the alcohol just before waking up. You want it to hang around at night.
      • by cusco (717999)
        Not so sure. The only thing worse than waking up with a hangover is gradually getting one as the day goes along because you woke up still drunk.
        • by Paul1969 (1976328)

          The only thing worse than waking up with a hangover is gradually getting one as the day goes along because you woke up still drunk.

          You got that right. And of course it happens on a day when the office is going through 3 screaming crises at once, with the emphasis on SCREAMING (oooooh, my head).

  • Yours sincerely has been doing it for ages now!
  • You realize that we're all going to be out of jobs, right?

    The free market will decide to employ the most efficient critters at converting caffeine into CO2 and ammonia. The fact that our new overlords will skip the intermediate step of writing code / designing circuits / creating proofs / etc. will be dismissed as "not relevant to adding to shareholder value".

    1. Caffeine
    2. (intermediate steps skipped)
    3. Waste (CO2 + ammonia)
    4. Profit!

  • Newly described (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by FrootLoops (1817694)

    Nitpick: it's "newly described species", not "newly-described species". A hyphen is used to separate multiple adjectives when they modify the same noun. The word "newly" is an adverb, so it's clear that it modifies the adjective "described". The hyphen is used to disambiguate: "fifteen minute presentations" could be grouped either as "fifteen (minute presentations)" or "(fifteen minute) presentations". If the latter was meant, "fifteen-minute presentations" makes that clear.

    I sometimes add the hyphen myself

    • by jamesh (87723)

      pedantic-much?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It was a clear, descriptive, polite and helpful nitpick, at least.

      • There's a fine line between pointless pedantry and useful precision in language. To me this is just over the line on the side of useful precision, since it brings to light an ambiguity (see my example) that can be easily missed. Of course it's off topic, but I didn't feel like discussing a bacterium that lives on caffeine.
    • A hyphen is used to separate multiple adjectives when they modify the same noun.

      Nitpick: in the phrase "fifteen-minute presentations", the words fifteen and minute are not adjectives that both modify "presentations". "Fifteen-minute", as a phrase, consists of two nouns functioning as a single adjectival phrase to describe yet another noun, "presentations". In construction, this is quite similar to an ablative absolute in Latin, although the lack of case in English nouns and the corresponding use of English words as multiple parts of speech makes the situation murky. Ask a linguist. Als

      • multiple parts of speech makes the situation murky. Ask a linguist. Also, "fifteen minute

        WOAH, wait... Stop-Right-There, buddy: What does the player of a linguine noodle strung instrument have to do with Language?!

      • Thanks for correcting me. I should not have called them adjectives.

        Also, "fifteen minute presentations" is inherently ambiguous unless referring to 15 physically small presentations.

        Nitpick: this phrase is ambiguous even if it's referring to 15 physically small presentations. The author's intent and their actual wording are not always the same.

        Maybe if I make this message short enough, there won't be anything in it to nitpick :).

    • by cusco (717999)
      Just to be nitpickier . . . it's 'by accident', not 'on accident'.
      • That made me curious. It seems (source [www.inst.at]) that "on is more prevalent under age 10, both on and by are common between the ages of 10 and 35, and by is overwhelmingly preferred by those over 35." That source also suggests "by accident" will die out and be replaced with "on accident". It mentions some other sources which call "on accident" an error. My impression is that those sources are older and haven't caught up to this change in our use of language. Saying "on accident" to someone who uses "by accident" exc
  • by bryan1945 (301828) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @08:48PM (#36235166) Journal

    They shouldn't be calling coders bacteria. Plus, they forgot pizza!

  • Get Back! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Cylix (55374) * on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @08:50PM (#36235196) Homepage Journal

    Stay away from my precious!

  • by ic3p1ck (597610) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @09:19PM (#36235352)

    I, for one, welcome our caffiene metabolizing bacteria overlords...

  • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @09:25PM (#36235388) Journal

    from the spit-it-out-you-wee-bastard department

  • by mevans86 (931724) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @09:30PM (#36235424) Homepage Journal
    Come on, Slashdot! Pseudomonas putida is not new! Chemists have been using it for the biochemical oxidation of aromatic compounds for decades. The CBB5 designator, as boring as it is, is the new species identifier.
  • by ArcCoyote (634356) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @09:41PM (#36235484)

    So how much heat can these little guys produce metabolizing caffeine? Because if it's substantial, you could feed them coffee grounds, and use the heat to power a coffee machine...

    • by ledow (319597)

      Genius.

    • by thijsh (910751)
      If I were you I wouldn't let these little buggers anywhere near a coffee machine or you'll soon have an office plague on your hands... But at least being quarantined together with the coffee machine beats being quarantined without access to coffee at all!
  • I think I "discovered" this bacterium years ago, he was named harold and worked right next to me...

  • Well fuck, first Small Pox, then Ebola, now this? Fucking fuck. THE END IS NEAR!!!

  • by macson_g (1551397) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @01:01AM (#36236390)
    Softwarium Developerium?
  • by pieisgood (841871) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @01:13AM (#36236414) Journal

    They've found a whole species of future mathematicians, though probably not the best. If they survived on pure amphetamines we'd be on our way towards a mathematical revolution.

  • So that's where everybody throws their leftover coffee!
  • Bacterium living on caffeine, or Mac fanbois posing in Starbucks?

    I see none.

  • An evil mastermind could destroy the western world by making this infectious - every human with this in their gut will be unable to get the effects of caffiene because the bacteria will have used it all before it hits the bloodsteam.
  • I had to enable Java to read it.

  • I attend the University of Iowa and I'm surprised it's living off of caffeine in a flower bed. I would've thought it would have either been alcohol or alcohol-infused vomit. Although, those caffeine-infused beers are quite popular around here.
  • I guess this means I'll have to start washing my coffee mug, after all.
    • by Paul1969 (1976328)

      Or you could make a game of it. See who gets more caffeine from the mug, you or the bacteria.
      Winner gets a double espresso.

  • If this idea will help improve lives on the affected country then why not. Just consider the factor of what will be the effect and who will be affected.
  • by AP31R0N (723649)

    1) These aren't new, they've prolly been around for about as long as the coffee bean, which might make them older than us.

    2) Re: Quote from summary - Someone found them. They didn't find themselves. The sentence should begin with who did the doing. We call this the subject of the sentence.

God may be subtle, but he isn't plain mean. -- Albert Einstein

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