Aldevron Breakthrough Blog

Rocking in the E. World

July 5, 2023 / by Tim Morris

Why E. coli rocks

Commonly, when a person hears about Escherichia coli (E. coli), the news is negative. But it’s only a specific strain of E. coli detected on food that wasn’t cleaned or stored properly that’s a health hazard. When it comes to biotech, however, E. coli rocks! It’s been the workhorse for the creation of a multitude of products due to:

These capabilities allow us to create products that we want in high quantity at high quality. It is a gram-negative, straight rod that is facultative anaerobe chemoorganotroph.

A valuable research assistant
E. coli is one of the most studied organisms, giving scientists a great comprehension on the different mechanisms to switch based on the product needs. It’s a flexible host that can handle many different conditions, such as oxygen concentration swings and it loves to “eat” carbon sources (just like us). E. coli can be used to create a multitude of molecules.

This information has helped the industry make high quality plasmid DNA and proteins at a lower price than alternative host systems, which in turn gets medicine to patients faster. This is one of the reasons we utilize E. coli as our main host system to create plasmids and proteins.

A multipurpose tool
E. coli can have many different strains (like BL21 or K12) that allow for increased functionality in a specific product we want to generate. This variety from the host system maintains the ability to identify specificity of equipment (like single-use fermenters) to function in similar operating conditions, but produce the variety of products, like pDNA to proteins.

E. coli is a robust host system that will uptake DNA readily and generate the desired product based on the different strains. Another one of the amazing things E. coli can do is it’s tunability to generate product based on the production process.

This host system rocks! It has helped bring many life-saving medicine to millions of patients around the world directly through its ability to generate good quality products at a high quantity. We stand up and play the air guitar for you, E. coli, to remind everyone that E. coli rocks.


Tim Morris

Tim Morris

Tim Morris leads the Upstream Process Development team at Aldevron. He's been in the industry for more than a decade supporting the development and manufacture of biologics. Tim also teaches a graduate-level course on biologics development and manufacturing at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford, which shows his passion for this field. You can find Tim supporting Aldevron's clients at our Madison, Wisconsin, site, teaching people the fundamentals and future state of upstream bioprocessing.