Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Boosting Biogasoline Production in Microbes

28.10.2014

Joint BioEnergy Institute Researchers Combine Systems Biology with Genetic Engineering to Improve Production of Isopentenol in E.Coli

In the on-going effort to develop advanced biofuels as a clean, green and sustainable source of liquid transportation fuels, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have identified microbial genes that can improve both the tolerance and the production of biogasoline in engineered strains of Escherichia coli.


Aindrila Mukhopadhyay (left) and Heather Jensen were part of a JBEI team that identified microbial genes which can improve both the tolerance and the production of biogasoline in engineered strains of E. coli. (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt)

Aindrila Mukhopadhyay, a chemist who directs the host engineering program for JBEI’s Fuels Synthesis Division, led a study in which transcriptomic data and a synthetic metabolic pathway were used to identify several genes that not only improve  tolerance but also production of isopentenol in E.coli. Isopentenol is a five-carbon alcohol that is a highly promising candidate for biogasoline, but, like other short-chained alcohols, is toxic to E.coli at commercial levels of fuel production.

“Our study demonstrates that microbial tolerance engineering using transcriptomics data can be used to identify target genes that improve fuel production,” says Mukhopadhyay, who also holds an appointment with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)’s Physical Biosciences Division. “Our targets include a regulator for amino acid biosynthesis, and an ABC transporter protein, the first native transporter that improves tolerance to a short-chain alcohol.”

Mukhopadhyay is the corresponding author of a paper describing this study in the journal mBio titled “Improving microbial bio-gasoline production in Escherichia coli using tolerance engineering.” Co-authors are Heather Jensen, Jee Loon Foo, Robert Dahl, Kevin George, Jay  Keasling, Taek Soon Lee and Susanna Leong.

The price of gasoline and other petroleum fuels may be dropping for the moment, but atmospheric carbon concentrations are continuing to rise. A highly touted carbon-neutral alternative to petroleum fuels is the microbial production of advanced biofuels from the cellulosic biomass of perennial grasses and other non-food plants, as well as from agricultural waste.  However, the toxicity to microbes of many of the best candidate compounds for advanced biofuels presents a “production versus survival” conundrum.

“In order for microbial biofuel production to be cost effective, yields must exceed native microbial tolerance levels, necessitating the development of solvent-tolerant microbial strains,” Mukhopadhyay says. “In parallel with improved tolerance it is also crucial that we improve production.”

To this end, Mukhopadhyay and her group in this new study used transcriptomic data – a measurement of differential expression of gene transcripts in a given genome – to identify 40 E.coli genes that showed increase when exposed to externally added isopentenol. These genes were then overexpressed in E. coli to evaluate their potential for improving isopentenol tolerance. Genes conferring isopentenol tolerance were then co-expressed individually with an isopentenol production metabolic pathway in E.coli to determine which would increase productivity as well.

“MetR, the methionine biosynthesis regulator, improved the titer for isopentenol production by 55-percent,” Mukhopadhyay says. “MdlB, the ABC transporter, facilitated a 12-percent improvement in isopentenol production.”

Mukhopadhyay and her group are especially eager to further investigate the MdlB transporter, which they believe, as the first native transporter gene shown to improve production of a short-chain alcohol, will provide a valuable new avenue for host engineering in biogasoline production.

“The critical point is that you must first identify the genes that can serve as engineering targets, and then test them to find which ones work best,” Mukhopadhyay says. “Now that we have identified MdlB as a target, we are going to examine it in great depth to see how can we improve its function and optimize its use in a production microbe.”

This research was supported by the DOE Office of Science. JBEI is a DOE Office of Science Bioenergy Research Center led by Berkeley Lab.

Additional Information

For more about the research of Aindrila Mukhopadhyay go here

For more about JBEI go here

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit the Office of Science website at science.energy.gov/.

Lynn Yarris | Eurek Alert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Error-free into the Quantum Computer Age

A study carried out by an international team of researchers and published in the journal Physical Review X shows that ion-trap technologies available today are suitable for building large-scale quantum computers. The scientists introduce trapped-ion quantum error correction protocols that detect and correct processing errors.

In order to reach their full potential, today’s quantum computer prototypes have to meet specific criteria: First, they have to be made bigger, which means...

Im Focus: Search for planets with Carmenes successful

German and Spanish researchers plan, build and use modern spectrograph

Since 2016, German and Spanish researchers, among them scientists from the University of Göttingen, have been hunting for exoplanets with the “Carmenes”...

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Single-photon detector can count to 4

18.12.2017 | Information Technology

Quantum memory with record-breaking capacity based on laser-cooled atoms

18.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How much soil goes down the drain -- New data on soil lost due to water

18.12.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>