Saturday, October 11, 2014

Genetic engineering of cyanobacteria to make biofuels

There is a recent post on work by Patrik Jones of Imperial College London:

Dr Patrik Jones and his team have genetically engineered E-coli, a common bacteria found in the gut.

He says changing the metabolism in the cells can produce propane.

"Once you've optimised that system and get those different components to work together, then we can observe an impact on the metabolism, which is the production of propane", Jones said.


Jones is excited by something else though, the prospect of moving his team's genetic engineering into cyanobacteria, using cells that feed on sunlight.

"The nice thing with moving it into cyanobacteria is you then can utilise the fact that they harvest solar energy and use that to produce chemical energy. We can then tap into that chemical energy that it generates and divert that into a fuel instead of a biomass."

Note that Jones gave a talk in July 2014 titled Engineering cyanobacteria for biofuel production . Also speaking at Systems Biology Summer School - SBSS 2014 [Photosynthesis in Cyanobacteria -
Computational Modeling of a Cyanobacterial Cell ] was Krishna Mahadevan of the University of Toronto on Model based optimization of metabolic networks.

One recalls the 1999 paper titled Ethanol Synthesis by Genetic Engineering in Cyanobacteria which appeared in Appl. Environ. Microbiol. February 1999 vol. 65 no. 2 523-528, with the last sentence of the abstract stating As cyanobacteria have simple growth requirements and use light, CO2, and inorganic elements efficiently, production of ethanol by cyanobacteria is a potential system for bioconversion of solar energy and CO2 into a valuable resource.

**In terms of more recent work, from Journal of Biotechnology, Volume 184, 20 August 2014, Pages 100–102

Deletion of pathways for carbon-storage in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 has been suggested as a strategy to increase the size of the available pyruvate pool for the production of (heterologous) chemical commodities. Here we show that deletion of the pathway for glycogen synthesis leads to a twofold increased lactate production rate, under nitrogen-limited conditions, whereas impairment of polyhydroxybutyrate synthesis does not.

**Separately, note of the recent ABO summit in San Diego:

Dr. Nikolaos Katsikis of SCHOTT and Raz Rashelbach of Algatech will present the study’s results to date at the Algae Biomass Summit, held from September 29 to October 2 in San Diego, Calif.

with the photograph


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