If you want to create sustainable biofuels by less as well as for less, you’ve got a range of options. as well as one of those options will be to go microbial, enlisting the help of tiny however powerful bacteria in creating a range of renewable biofuels as well as chemicals.
In a recent study published in mBio, Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) assistant scientist Kim Lemmer as well as a team of collaborators focus on the microbes, reporting on a novel way to improve lipid production in bacteria. The finding could help make microbial lipids a viable alternative to petroleum-derived fuels as well as chemicals.
“As a fuel source, microbial lipids have a lot of potential,” says Lemmer. “You can generate them inside the controlled setting of a lab as well as without affecting the food chain. however the challenge will be figuring out how to generate enough lipids to make them usable on an industrial scale.”
To address This particular challenge, Lemmer as well as collaborators set out to gain a better understanding of the systems controlling lipid production inside the bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides. First, they created as well as analyzed a library of more than 11,000 mutant strains of the bacteria in order to identify which strains had the highest levels of fatty acids. When they began studying the top ten, however, they did not see any of the gene disruptions one might expect for increased lipid production.
“At first, we looked at of which list as well as the item didn’t make any sense to us,” says Lemmer. “however when we started out testing their characteristics, we were surprised to find of which all these strains had increased sensitivity to compounds of which act on the cell envelope.”
Collaborators at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory began examining the strains that has a high-power microscope. There they found of which eight out of the ten strains’ cell envelopes showed differences, whether in length or shape, by those of the original strain of R. sphaeroides.
Lemmer as well as team then turned to process engineering, growing one of the strains with the highest lipid production on a feeding schedule of which encourages cells to grow to very high density. This particular method yielded a mutant strain with eight times more lipids than what’s observed in batch culture. Since they had coaxed the strain to contain up to 33 percent of its weight in fatty acids, they had effectively engineered R. sphaeroides to be “oleaginous,” or to accumulate a large portion of its mass as lipids.
“The idea of which you can increase lipid production by altering the cell envelope will be totally completely new,” says Lemmer. “as well as the novel properties of these mutants suggest of which similar modifications inside the cell envelope might increase production in different bacteria as well.”
The team also noticed of which some of the bacteria’s oil will be escaping the cell, a potentially welcome phenomenon given of which researchers will eventually need to devise a means of extracting the oil for industrial use. however Lemmer says of which future work will also focus on gaining a basic understanding of the mechanisms at work.
“We know of which something novel will be going on in these bacteria to give us oil production, however we don’t know how. Answering This particular question could help us to further improve the production of these as well as different valuable chemicals,” she says.
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