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Tue Jan 8, 2013, 11:07 AM

Engineered bacteria make fuel (precursors) from sunlight

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-01/uoc--ebm010713.php
Public release date: 7-Jan-2013

Contact: Andy Fell
ahfell@ucdavis.edu
530-752-4533
University of California - Davis

Engineered bacteria make fuel from sunlight

Chemists at the University of California, Davis, have engineered blue-green algae to grow chemical precursors for fuels and plastics -- the first step in replacing fossil fuels as raw materials for the chemical industry.

"Most chemical feedstocks come from petroleum and natural gas, and we need other sources," said Shota Atsumi, assistant professor of chemistry at UC Davis and lead author on the study published Jan. 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.



The researchers identified enzymes from online databases that carried out the reactions they were looking for, and then introduced the DNA for these enzymes into the cells. Working a step at a time, they built up a three-step pathway that allows the cyanobacteria to convert carbon dioxide into 2,3 butanediol, a chemical that can be used to make paint, solvents, plastics and fuels.



After three weeks growth, the cyanobacteria yielded 2.4 grams of 2,3 butanediol per liter of growth medium -- the highest productivity yet achieved for chemicals grown by cyanobacteria and with potential for commercial development, Atsumi said.


http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1213024110 (Not live yet.)
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/01/02/1213024110.abstract

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