From Bacteria to Biofuel

biofuelsCyanobacteria has been recognized by researchers as a promising platform for biofuel production since 2013. The bacteria—more commonly referred to as blue-green algae—has the ability to grow fast and fix carbon dioxide gas. Unlike many other forms of bacteria, they do not require fermentable sugars or arable land to grow.

While that all spells out promising potential for the transformation into biofuel, the productions methods have not been adequate to take this development to commercialization.

A ‘Green’ Revolution

Now, researchers from Michigan State University have found a way to streamline the molecular machinery that transforms cyanobacteria into biofuels. To do this, researchers fabricated a synthetic protein that can improve the bacteria’s ability to fix carbon dioxide gas as well as potentially improve plant photosynthesis.

“The multifunctional protein we’ve built can be compared to a Swiss Army knife,” says Raul Gonzalez-Esquer, a doctoral researcher at Michigan State University and one of the authors of the study. “From known, existing parts, we’ve built a new protein that does several essential functions.”

This from Futurity:

The scientists modernized the “factory” by updating the carboxysome, a particularly complex BMC that requires a series of interactions involving at least six gene products. The result is a metabolic core that takes CO2 out of the atmosphere and converts it into sugar. To streamline the process, the scientists created a hybrid protein in cyanobacteria, organisms that have many potential uses for making green chemicals or biofuels.

Read the full article here.

“It’s comparable to making coffee. Rather than getting an oven to roast the coffee beans, a grinder to process them, and a brewing machine, we’ve built a single coffeemaker where it all happens in one place,” said Gonzalez-Esquer. “The new tool takes raw material and produces the finished product with a smaller investment.”

[Image: Cardinale Lab]

PS: Head over to the Digital Library to find out more about biofuels.

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