We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Recombinant Bacteria?

By Helga George
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Recombinant bacteria are bacteria that have undergone genetic engineering. This means their DNA has been altered by the introduction of new DNA. Such bacteria have been of immense value in biological research, and for industrial and environmental uses.

New DNA is often introduced in some sort of vehicle that is known as a vector. This can be a plasmid or a virus. The plasmid has a type of selectable marker, so that the cells will keep producing it. Often, this is antibiotic resistance. It is also possible to introduce a gene directly into the bacterium’s own DNA.

Often when a new gene is cloned, it is expressed in a microorganism, and frequently in bacteria. The lab rat of the bacterial world is Escherichia coli, commonly found in our intestines. Many strains of E. coli are available for cloning experiments.

Many cloning kits are available that facilitate a high level of expression of protein produced by a cloned gene in E. coli. This is known as overexpression. In basic research, such techniques help provide enough material to study the function and properties of the product of the gene.

Overexpression techniques in recombinant bacteria have been of great utility for various industries. They have enabled the production of materials that are very difficult to isolate from natural sources. Also, isolating compounds from humans risks the spread of diseases. Many proteins of medical importance have been produced commercially in this manner. Insulin, human growth hormone, and the anti-anemia drug erythropoietin are some examples.

Many other species of bacteria are capable of being altered genetically. This includes those that can live in more extreme environmental conditions, such as polluted wastewater. Often the process of making a chemical, or degrading one, takes several different chemical steps. Scientists have been able to engineer some recombinant bacteria with the genes for whole pathways for the biosynthesis, or biodegradation, of compounds.

Genetically-altered bacteria are finding use in bioremediation. This is the practice of using organisms to treat pollution made by humans. For decades, bacteria and fungi have been used to treat wastewater and decontaminate water and soils infused with organic pollutants. With the advent of genetic engineering, however, it is possible to design recombinant bacteria to break down pollutants under conditions that unaltered microorganisms may find unfavorable.

Bacteria are particularly adept at taking up toxic metals. The treatment of contaminated soil and solid waste is generally done in a large tank known as a bioreactor. This is a way of containing the recombinant bacteria, so they do not escape into the environment. It also makes it easier to optimize environmental conditions to those that favor growth of the bacteria. Also, new strains of bacteria can be created to break down compounds that were previously very resistant to degradation.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Markus — On May 30, 2011

@wizup - I’m with you in so many ways to just let evolution run its course. Recombinant technology has gone too far with its experiments.

Are we seriously growing new body parts like ears in these DNA labs? I totally disagree with cloning and the ability to choose an unborn child’s traits. What gives us the right to play God?

By wizup — On May 28, 2011

@ellafarris - Well this may be all good as far as you’re concerned but what about all those viruses they created that have developed a resistance to our own antibiotics? What about how waste and pollution are developing a resistance to the genetic recombination in bacteria?

We’re creating our own resistance to diseases and environmental pollution. This may be one part of science we should leave alone and just let evolution run its course naturally.

By ellafarris — On May 26, 2011

Recombinant DNA technology has been getting a bad wrap for a long time. People need to look at how useful it is to mankind and to our future.

We finally have the ability to prevent genetic diseases and find better treatments or maybe even a cure for cancer through DNA recombination. Science and technology are always changing and progressing and developing new things that improve our lives. This has been going on since the dawn of time, and look at how far we’ve come.

DNA technology not only improves our medications but it ensures healthier food production and searches for ways to improve our environment. As far as I’m concerned, these are all good things. Aren’t they?

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.