September 22, 2008

Genetically modified microbe cranks out ethanol

Knock the right genes out of a certain heat-loving bacteria and you can get it to ferment biomass into ethanol and only ethanol.

Several kinds of bacteria ferment carbohydrates from biomass, but the output has been a mix of ethanol and other substances. In addition, using bacteria that function at higher temperatures reduces the amount of catalyst needed for fermentation.

The engineered bacteria strain produces 37 grams of ethanol per liter of carbohydrate, the highest amount so far for thermophilic bacteria, according to the researchers.

Research paper:
Metabolic Engineering of a Thermophilic Bacterium to Produce Ethanol at High Yield
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online September 8, 2008

Researcher's homepage:
Lee Rybeck Lynd

Related stories and briefs:
Biomass-to-biofuel simplified -- another cellulose-to-biofuel technique

Back to ERN September 22/29, 2008



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