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 January 27, 2015 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 January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Aquaponics Turn Suburban Industrial Park Into Farmland: Hume

Aquaponics Turn Suburban Industrial Park Into Farmland: Hume

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) — Ancient techniques of growing greens with fish and water are well ahead of Toronto bylaws. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mexico's Volcano of Fire Erupts Again

Mexico's Volcano of Fire Erupts Again

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) — A huge plume of smoke shoots into the air as activity in Mexico&apos;s Volcano of Fire picks up again. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Time Lapse: Snow, Frost Piling Up in New York's Times Square

Time Lapse: Snow, Frost Piling Up in New York's Times Square

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 26, 2015) — Video shows the accumulation of snow and frost in New York City&apos;s Times Square over five hours on Monday. Time Lapse (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Put Tiny Helmets on a Hawk to Figure Out How It Targets Prey

Researchers Put Tiny Helmets on a Hawk to Figure Out How It Targets Prey

Buzz60 (Jan. 26, 2015) — A hawk wears a teeny tiny helmet to give scientists an insight into its hunting strategy. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
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