Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biologically inspired technology produces sugar from photosynthetic bacteria

Date:
June 29, 2010
Source:
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
Summary:
Researchers have engineered photosynthetic bacteria to produce simple sugars and lactic acid. This innovation could lead to new, environmentally friendly methods for producing commodity chemicals in bulk. It could also lead to reduced carbon dioxide emissions, greater availability of biodegradable plastics, and the capture of harmful CO2 emissions from power plants and industrial facilities.

Researchers from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard and Harvard Medical School have engineered photosynthetic bacteria to produce simple sugars and lactic acid. This innovation could lead to new, environmentally friendly methods for producing commodity chemicals in bulk.

Related Articles


Their research findings appear in the current issue of Applied and Environmental Biology.

This photosynthetic factory could also reduce the carbon dioxide emissions associated with transporting sugar globally from producing countries; lead to greater availability of biodegradable plastics; and allow capture of harmful CO2 emissions from power plants and industrial facilities.

In addition to its positive environmental impact, the technology offers potential economic advantages. Because the production methods use photosynthesis -- the process by which living things are assembled using only CO2 and sunlight -- the cost of making sugars, lactic acid, and other compounds would be significantly lower than traditional methods.

"What we're doing is using genetic engineering to get organisms to act the way we want them to -- in this case producing food additives," said Wyss Institute senior staff scientist Jeffrey Way, Ph.D. "These discoveries have significant practical implications in moving toward a green economy."

In addition to Dr. Way, researchers on this effort include Wyss Institute core faculty member Professor Pamela Silver, Ph.D., also of Harvard Medical School; and Henrike Niederholtmeyer, Bernd T. Wolfstadter, and David Savage, Ph.D., all of Harvard Medical School. Sugar is primarily produced from sugar cane, which grows only in tropical and subtropical climates. By enabling production almost anywhere in the world, this living cellular manufacturing plant could greatly reduce the cost and emissions associated with transporting millions of tons of sugar to consumers every year. It could also expand the availability of biodegradable plastics by reducing the cost of lactic acid, a key building block in their production.

The current work by Way and Silver's team is the latest innovation in a wide-ranging program in which the Wyss Institute is working with various partner institutions to develop environmentally sustainable ways to produce biofuels, hydrogen, and other high value chemicals and food additives.

"Our mission at the Wyss Institute is to use Nature's design principles to create solutions in medicine, manufacturing, energy, and architecture that will lead to a more sustainable world," said Don Ingber, Ph.D., M.D., Founding Director of the Wyss Institute. "This work is an important step in that direction."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. H. Niederholtmeyer, B. T. Wolfstadter, D. F. Savage, P. A. Silver, J. C. Way. Engineering Cyanobacteria To Synthesize and Export Hydrophilic Products. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2010; 76 (11): 3462 DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00202-10

Cite This Page:

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. "Biologically inspired technology produces sugar from photosynthetic bacteria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628170932.htm>.
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. (2010, June 29). Biologically inspired technology produces sugar from photosynthetic bacteria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628170932.htm
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. "Biologically inspired technology produces sugar from photosynthetic bacteria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628170932.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Mudslide in Sri Lanka Buries Houses

Deadly Mudslide in Sri Lanka Buries Houses

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) A mudslide triggered by monsoon rains buried scores of workers' houses at a tea plantation in central Sri Lanka on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and leaving more than 250 missing, an official said. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags

Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) The Galapagos tortoise has made a stupendous recovery from the brink of extinction to a population of more than 1,000. But it still faces threats. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A solar energy project in the Tunisian Sahara aims to generate enough clean energy by 2018 to power two million European homes. Matt Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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