About 200 species of fungi contain psilocybin, a substance that alters consciousness. Scientists believe that psilocybin has great potential for treating depression and other mental disorders, writes Metabolic Engineering.
Read also: The harm of GMOs: can genetically modified foods really kill us
But growing mushrooms on an industrial scale is difficult, so researchers are looking for other production methods. Alexandra Adams, Andrew Jones, and other scientists at the University of Miami have proposed metabolic engineering as an alternative.
This method consists in constructing organisms whose transgenic cells produce new biochemical reactions. The basis for the experiments was Escherichia coli – a bacterium that is easy to grow in the laboratory.
Psilocybin can be used to treat depression.
Bacteria transplanted the genes of the fungus Psilocybe cubensis. Scientists have identified a strain of bacteria that produce the greatest amount of psilocybin, and named it pPsilo16.
They duplicated this strain and found out the conditions under which bacteria actively produce the necessary compound. Researchers have increased the rate of psilocybin production to 1.16 g per liter. This is the highest result among genetically modified organisms.
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