Country Life Today: Why deadly bacteria could be our allies in the fight against climate change

In today's round up, we find out how bacteria can help us stem global warming, meet the Scottish farm going plastic-free and discover top chefs' favourite fast foods

‘Rewired’ bacteria could soak up carbon dioxide

Israeli scientists have genetically modified a strain of E.coli bacteria to make them consume carbon dioxide instead of organic compounds.

‘The study describes, for the first time, a successful transformation of a bacterium’s mode of growth. Teaching a gut bacterium to do tricks that plants are renowned for was a real long shot,’ said one of the authors, Shmuel Gleizer.

The snag is that at the moment, the bacteria release more carbon than they absorb but this could be potentially be fixed through additional steps in the project.

‘Our main aim was to create a convenient scientific platform that could enhance carbon-dioxide fixation, which can help address challenges related to sustainable production of food and fuels and global warming,” said another author, Ron Milo. ‘Converting the carbon source of E.coli, from organic carbon into CO2 is a major step towards establishing such a platform.’

Full story (The Independent)


Scottish dairy farm sets plastic-free example

An Ayrshire dairy producer has taken a firm stance against waste, banning all single-use plastic from the farm. Mossgiel Organic is not only replacing all single-use plastic milk cartons with glass bottles — quirkily adorned with the face of Robert Burns — but also ditching single-use plastics from inputs such as feed and chemicals, and from storage, including silage wraps.

From next year, the farm will also supply glass-bottled milk to its wholesale customers, such as cafes and restaurants.

Read more (The Guardian)


18,000-year-old puppy may be the world’s oldest dog

Scientists have tested the body of an 18,000-year-old puppy they discovered in Russia last April — but they can’t yet figure out whether it’s a wolf or the world’s earliest known dog.

More research will be required to discover the true nature of the frozen animal. Meanwhile, however, the prehistoric puppy, which was found perfectly preserved in the Siberian permafrost, down to its nose and fur, has become an internet sensation and has even starred in its very own memes.

Read more (Country Life)


On This Day… in 1832

Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, near Philadelphia. The American novelist was the second of four daughters, just like the character of Jo is in her masterpiece, Little Women. Because her family struggled financially, Alcott took up work as a teacher, seamstress and governess, but also began writing stories. She published her first book, Flower Fables, in 1849. Her career blossomed and was crowned in 1868 by the publication of Little Women, which was partly inspired by her family’s life and made her hugely successful.

A spectacularly successful book, Little Women was also adapted for the screen, first in 1933, then in 1949 (pictured below), with the latest version released this Boxing Day.

actors Margaret O'Brien, Elizabeth Taylor, June Allyson, Janet Leigh, and Peter Lawford sit around a table having tea, in a still from director Mervyn LeRoy's film, 'Little Women

Top chefs confess they eat fast food

Their culinary creations have garnered more accolades and critical acclaim than you can possibly remember but some of Britain’s top chefs admit they often crave ordinary fast food. Double Michelin-starred Sat Bains, for example, is partial to McDonald’s Filet-‘o-fish, the even more starred Heston Blumenthal likes petrol-station–style tuna mayo sandwiches while Yotam Ottolenghi enjoys falafels from the Round stand in Camden.

Sausage rolls, pasties, bagels, fries and chicken wings all feature in the gastronomic wish-list of the country’s best cooks — but they are unrepentant about it. As Sat Bains puts it: ‘If that makes me happy, I’m going to eat it.’

Read more (The Guardian)


And finally…are you ready for this full English?

A café in Folkestone offers a breakfast so big it has to be served on specially reinforced plates because regular ones would not withstand the weight.