Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

OK, now, due to the wonders of genetic engineering, we now have yeast that can turn urine into food and plastic.   To which I can only add:  Eww.  Excerpt:

A tiny organism has big potential to produce both life-sustaining food and construction materials for astronauts on their long journey to Mars.

Yeast strains of Yarrowia lipolytica that naturally like to feed on urine have been bioengineered to produce omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to human health, as well as polyesters that can be made into moldable shapes.

Generating tools and products from waste compounds is more efficient for a space mission than stockpiling food and supplies, which take up precious cargo room and require extra fuel to escape Earth’s gravity. But the innovation could also serve people on Earth in places where resources are limited, said Mark Blenner, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Clemson University.

“In poorer countries, we think this might be an interesting way to reduce waste production,” Blenner told Seeker.

A yeast-based system could make good economic sense for remote military bases, too, where the price of fuel to ship supplies can cost hundreds of dollars per gallon.

Again:  Eww.

Drinking recycled urine is a science-fiction staple; a reference to recycled pee is always good for an author aiming for a bit of humor.  But at least in space, it may well be a necessity.  Especially on long voyages.

But eating recycled urine?  And making plastic from it?  That’s something new.  Imagine a conversation between Martian settlers, say a hundred years from now:

Bill:  “Say, Bob, I love that new addition on your house.  That shimmering translucent roof is great.  What’s it made out of?”

Bob:  “The roof on my new sunroom?  Oh, that’s pee.”

OK, that sounded funnier before I typed it up.