Fulfilling the promise of cellulosic biofuels requires developing efficient strategies to extract sugar molecules in biomass polymers like cellulose. Microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi are capable of converting biomass to simple sugars, but historically have been difficult to study using genetic approaches.
A breakthrough by a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers at the GLBRC has made it possible to perform genetic analysis on Cellvibrio japonicus, a promising bacterium that has long been known to convert biomass to sugars. Using a technique called vector integration, the team has developed a method to generate a mutation in any gene within the organism.
As a test of the technique, the team constructed a mutation that inactivated a key component of a protein complex called a Type II Secretion System, and the disruption of this system prevented the bacterium from efficiently converting biomass into sugars. This proves for the first time that Cellvibrio uses the Type II Secretion System to secrete key enzymes for breakdown of biomass polymerase, thus providing key insight into how this bacterium obtains sugars from biomass.
"Realizing the promise of cellulosic biofuels requires identifying more efficient methods of releasing sugars from biomass", says GLBRC associate scientist David Keating, who led the team. "This new genetic method will allow us to understand how bacteria carry out this conversion, which should provide new avenues for improving the industrial process."
Plant cell wall deconstruction is a very complex process that requires a large number of enzymes, many with overlapping specificities, says Professor and Eminent Scholar in Bioenergy Harry Gilbert, of the University of Georgia's Complex Carbohydrate Research Center.
"As genetic systems for many bacteria that orchestrate this process have not been developed, the use of null mutations (inactivating specific genes) to explore the functional significance of specific enzymes has not been possible," says Gilbert. "Keating's group has provided the ability to do that — inactivate specific genes in Cellvibrio japonicus — which displays an extensive plant cell wall degrading apparatus. This enables you to ask critical biological questions about how the system is regulated and how the enzymes work together to degrade this hugely complex molecule. This is a substantial and important development in the field."
This project was funded by the DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), one of three Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Centers funded to make transformational breakthroughs that will form the foundation of new cellulosic biofuels technology. The GLBRC is led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with Michigan State University as the major partner. Additional scientific partners are DOE National Laboratories, other universities and a biotechnology company.
Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences
11.12.2017 | Information Technology