Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Efficient Biofuel Made From Genetically Modified E. Coli Bacteria

Date:
January 7, 2008
Source:
University of California, Los Angeles
Summary:
Researchers have developed a new method for producing next-generation biofuels by genetically modifying Escherichia coli bacteria to be an efficient biofuel synthesizer. The method could lead to mass production of these biofuels. The research team modified key pathways in E. coli to produce several higher-chain alcohols from glucose, a renewable carbon source.

Researchers have genetically modified Escherichia coli bacteria to make it an efficient biofuel synthesizer.
Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH

Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a new method for producing next-generation biofuels by genetically modifying Escherichia coli bacteria to be an efficient biofuel synthesizer. The method could lead to mass production of these biofuels.

Concerns about long-term fossil fuel availability, coupled with environmental problems resulting from their production and use, have spurred increased efforts to synthesize biofuels from renewable resources.

Biofuels, like commercially available ethanol, are produced from agricultural products such as corn, sugarcane or waste cellulose. Ethanol, however, has limitations— it is not as efficient as gasoline and must be mixed with gas for use as a transportation fuel. It also tends to absorb water from its surroundings, making it corrosive and preventing it from being stored or distributed in existing infrastructure without modification.

Higher-chain alcohols have energy densities close to gasoline, are not as volatile or corrosive as ethanol, and do not readily absorb water. Furthermore, branched-chain alcohols, such as isobutanol, have higher-octane numbers, resulting in less knocking in engines. Isobutanol or C5 alcohols have never been produced from a renewable source with yields high enough to make them viable as a gasoline substitute.

A new strategy has been developed by UCLA professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering James Liao, postdoctoral fellow Shota Atsumi and visiting professor Taizo Hanai.

"These alcohols are typically trace byproducts in fermentation," Liao said. "To modify an organism to produce these compounds usually results in toxicity in the cell. We bypassed this difficulty by leveraging the native metabolic networks in E. coli but altered its intracellular chemistry using genetic engineering to produce these alcohols."

The research team modified key pathways in E. coli to produce several higher-chain alcohols from glucose, a renewable carbon source, including isobutanol, 1-butanol, 2-methyl-1-butanol, 3-methyl-1-butanol and 2-phenylethanol.

This strategy leverages the E. coli host's highly active amino acid biosynthetic pathway by shifting part of it to alcohol production. In particular, the research team achieved high-yield, high-specificity production of isobutanol from glucose.

This new strategy opens an unexplored frontier for biofuels production, both in coli and in other microorganisms.

"The ability to make these branched-chain higher alcohols so efficiently is surprising," Liao said. "Unlike ethanol, organisms are not used to producing these unusual alcohols, and there is no advantage for them to do so. The fact that they can be made by E. coli is even more surprising, since E. coli is not a promising host to tolerate alcohols. These results mean that these unusual alcohols in fact can be manufactured as efficiently as what evolved in nature for ethanol. Therefore, we now can explore these unusual alcohols as biofuels and are not bound by what nature has given us."

UCLA has licensed the technology through an exclusive royalty-bearing license to Gevo Inc., a Pasadena, Calif.-based company founded in 2005 and dedicated to producing biofuels.

"Given that part of UCLA's mission is to transfer technologies to the commercial sector to benefit the public, we are excited at the prospect that this UCLA-developed technology may play a key role in addressing climate change and energy independence," said Earl Weinstein, assistant director of the UCLA Office of Intellectual Property. "It has been a pleasure to work with the team at Gevo on this deal, and we look forward to an ongoing relationship with them".

"This discovery leads to new opportunities for advanced biofuel development," said Patrick Gruber, Gevo's chief executive officer. "As the exclusive licensee of this technology, we can further our national interests in developing advanced renewable resource-based fuels that will help address the issues of climate change and future energy needs while creating a significant competitive advantage."

Liao has joined Gevo's scientific advisory board. In this role, he will continue to provide technical oversight and guidance during the commercial development of this technology.

"Dr. Liao's input will be invaluable as we scale up the commercial applications made possible by this breakthrough in technology and bring advanced biofuels to market," said Matthew Peters, chief scientific officer of Gevo.

Full details of the research appear in the Jan. 3 issue of the journal Nature.

The research was supported in part by the UCLA–Department of Energy Institute for Genomics and Proteomics and the UCLA–NASA Institute for Cell Mimetic Space Exploration.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California, Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California, Los Angeles. "Efficient Biofuel Made From Genetically Modified E. Coli Bacteria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080106202952.htm>.
University of California, Los Angeles. (2008, January 7). Efficient Biofuel Made From Genetically Modified E. Coli Bacteria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080106202952.htm
University of California, Los Angeles. "Efficient Biofuel Made From Genetically Modified E. Coli Bacteria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080106202952.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

AP (July 25, 2014) Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe toured the Cherrystone Family Camping and RV Resort on the Chesapeake Bay today, a day after it was hit by a tornado. The storm claimed two lives and injured dozens of others. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins