Vampire Bacteria

I VANT to suck your… biofuel?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Algae can be made into a biofuel that’s greener than gasoline – literally! But a mysterious killer has been sucking its life out. What causes these healthy aquatic creatures to become a rotting brown mess?

University of Arizona researchers Judith Brown and Seth Steichen to the rescue! They collected algae samples from a pond in the Sonoran Desert. They found a bacteria they appropriately call Vampirovibrio chlorellavorus.

After closely studying its DNA components, the researchers FINALLY understand how this vampire preys on its victims.

This algae predator contains VIRULENCE genes, which means it causes disease. Vampirovibrio sticks to algal cells and slowly SUCKS out their insides. The special genes make it ruthlessly target, infect, and eliminate healthy algae.

The researchers are currently seeking the metaphorical garlic to render this vampire…toothless! Without infections, we can fill our cars with high quality biofuel instead of gasoline!

Just don’t put a stake through the gas tank!