Escherichia coli is the best known prokaryotic organism, we know more about E. coli than humans. It was first isolated in 1885 by the German bacteriologist Theodor Escherich, as normal flora of the intestinal tract.
The Nobel Prize is the highest honor for a scientist. Each year, only a few scientists are awarded this glorious award. Only a few scientists whose discoveries “have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind” will be remembered as Nobel Laureates.
E. coli is the preferred model organism for different experiments as it is easy to grow and work within the laboratory. It also supports the growth of various bacterial viruses (bacteriophages) which made it possible to study the detailed structure and pathogenesis of viruses. The process of conjugation was discovered in E. coli in 1946 by Joshua Lederberg and Edward L. Tatum. The availability of DNA sequence information coupled with vast biochemical and physiological data makes E. coli the organism of choice not only for virologists, biochemists, and molecular biologists but for all researchers of biology.
Below is a list of the Nobel-worthy discoveries in which E. coli has been used as a research organism/tool along with Nobel prize-winning year.
- 2015: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015 was awarded jointly to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich, and Aziz Sancar “for mechanistic studies of DNA repair”. Escherichia coli was extensively used in this research.
- 2008: Green fluorescent protein, a tag scientists use to track cell components
- 1999: Signal sequences on proteins, one way that cells organize themselves
- 1997: ATP generation, how cells make ATP, the energy molecule that powers life
- 1989: RNA as an enzyme, additional roles for RNA discovered
- 1980: Recombinant DNA, the creation of the first genetically engineered DNA
- 1978: Restriction enzymes, cellular “scissors” that allows scientists to cut DNA
- 1969: Virus replication, how viruses reproduce inside cells
- 1968: The genetic code, the language in which our DNA is written
- 1965: Gene regulation, how genes are turned on or off
- 1959: DNA replication, how life copies its genetic code
- 1958: Bacterial sex, and other ways bacteria can share genes with one another
References and further readings
- FAQ: E. Coli: Good, Bad, & Deadly—NCBI Bookshelf. Retrieved June 7, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562895/