Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

E. coli engineered to produce biodiesel

Date:
September 11, 2010
Source:
Rutgers University
Summary:
New research is shedding light on how to alter the genetic makeup of E. coli to produce biodiesel fuel derived from fatty acids.

The E. coli microorganism can be modified to make it overproduce fatty acids.
Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIH/NIAID

One mention of E. coli conjures images of sickness and food poisoning, but the malevolent bacteria may also be the key to the future of renewable energy.

Related Articles


Desmond Lun, an associate professor of computer science at Rutgers University-Camden, is researching how to alter the genetic makeup of E. coli to produce biodiesel fuel derived from fatty acids.

"If we can engineer biological organisms to produce biodiesel fuels, we'll have a new way of storing and using energy," Lun says.

Creating renewable energy by making fuels, like making ethanol out of corn, has been a common practice in trying to achieve sustainability.

However, Lun says, "It's widely acknowledged that making fuel out of food sources is not very sustainable. It's too expensive and it competes with our food sources."

One alternative is to modify the E. coli microorganism to make it overproduce fatty acids, which are used to make biodiesel.

"Fatty acid molecules aren't that different from a lot of fuel molecules," says Lun, a Philadelphia resident. "Biodiesel is something that we can generate quite easily. E. coli has been used as a lab organism for more than 60 years and it's well-studied. We know a lot about its genetics and how to manipulate it. We've got to make quite drastic changes to do it and it requires major intervention."

That's where Lun's computer science expertise comes in. Lun builds computational models of the E. coli organisms to determine what would happen if changes are made. Those changes could include removing enzymes to enhance fatty acid production.

"We call it synthetic biology," he says. "It's sort of the next stage of genetic engineering. Instead of making small changes to specific genes, we're really modifying large sections of genome. We're putting in entirely new traits rather than modifying existing traits."

Lun explains, "The unique aspect of my work is this emphasis on computational modeling as a way of guiding it. Even these simple bacteria are immensely complex. Computational modeling can offer a way to speed up the process and make it a faster, better process."

Fatty acid production in the altered bacteria would be enhanced, paving the way for biofuel development.

Lun is collaborating with researchers from Harvard University on his E. coli project.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rutgers University. "E. coli engineered to produce biodiesel." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100903104828.htm>.
Rutgers University. (2010, September 11). E. coli engineered to produce biodiesel. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100903104828.htm
Rutgers University. "E. coli engineered to produce biodiesel." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100903104828.htm (accessed February 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, February 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Amazon Keeps Its Green Thanks To The Sahara Desert

The Amazon Keeps Its Green Thanks To The Sahara Desert

Newsy (Feb. 25, 2015) Satellite data shows the Amazon rainforest supports its lush flora with a little help from Sahara Desert dust. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 25, 2015) Washington&apos;s mayor says the District of Columbia will move forward with marijuana legalization, despite pushback from Congress. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Newsy (Feb. 25, 2015) A new study says marijuana is about 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fox With Horrifying Injury Rescued and Released Back Into the Wild

Fox With Horrifying Injury Rescued and Released Back Into the Wild

RightThisMinute (Feb. 25, 2015) This wounded fox knew what she was doing when she wandered into the yard of a nature photographer. The photographer got "Scamp" immediately in the hands of Wildlife Aid and she was released back into the wild in no time. Video provided by RightThisMinute
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