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Home » California, Energy, Federal Agency, Process, R & D Focus

New Synthetic Biology Technique Boosts Microbial Production of Diesel Fuel

Submitted by on March 27, 2012 – 11:43 amNo Comment

by Lynn Yarris (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)  Joint BioEnergy Institute Researchers Develop Dynamic System for Regulating Metabolic Pathways

Significant boosts in the microbial production of clean, green and renewable biodiesel fuel has been achieved with the development of a new technique in synthetic biology by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). This new technique – dubbed a dynamic sensor-regulator system (DSRS) – can detect metabolic changes in microbes during the production of fatty acid-based fuels or chemicals and control the expression of genes affecting that production. The result in one demonstration was a threefold increase in the microbial production of biodiesel from glucose.

…(Jay) Keasling, who also serves as the Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is the corresponding author of a paper describing this research in Nature Biotechnology. The paper is titled “Design of a dynamic sensor-regulator system for production of FAbased chemicals and fuels.” Co-authors are Fuzhong Zhang and James Carothers of JBEI’s Fuels Synthesis Division, which is directed by Keasling.

…Introducing the DSRS into the biodiesel-producing strain of E.coli improved the stability of this strain and tripled the yield of fuel, reaching 28-percent of the theoretical maximum. With further refinements of the technique, yields should go even higher. The DSRS should also be applicable to the microbial production of other chemical products, both fatty acid-based and beyond.  READ MORE

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