Gut bacterium that plays an important role in genetic engineering
The bacterium Escherichia coli, found in the gut flora of humans and animals, is the "pet" of microbiologists.
Genetically engineered E.coli strains are used for the production of many proteins - e.g. insulin and other pharmacological agents. E.coli is also used as a system for multiplying gene sequences or vectors in laboratories (cloning).
Plant genetic engineering also uses E.coli. The bacteria are often used to make many copies of a gene construct that will eventually be transferred into a plant.
E.coli has historically been the most researched organism in molecular biology and genetics. Its genome has completely been sequenced and the functions of most of its 4,288 genes have been characterised.