Journal: Journal of Biological Chemistry
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Synthetic biology boosts biofuel production
© VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty
Engineered bacteria can efficiently turn a waste product of the palm oil industry into a valuable biofuel, researchers at the Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology (VISTEC) in Thailand have shown.
By inserting the right combination of genes, bacteria can be turned into ecofriendly chemical factories. Researchers had previously inserted a gene set to enable E. coli to turn waste fatty acids into alkane biofuels. The last step of this process is driven by an enzyme that forms the final alkane from an aldehyde precursor. But the enzyme also consumes a key cellular metabolite, limiting biofuel output.
Now, the VISTEC team has incorporated an extra gene into the engineered bacteria, for an enzyme that regenerates the metabolite by consuming one of the by-products of alkane production. The extra gene boosted the bacteria’s alkane production yield to around 50% — the highest yield achieved to date.
- Journal of Biological Chemistry 294, 11536–11548 (2019). doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.008246