Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New microbial genetic system dissects biomass to biofuel conversion

14.06.2010
A research team at the DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) has developed a powerful new tool that promises to unlock the secrets of biomass degradation, a critical step in the development of cost-effective cellulosic biofuels. The details of this method were published online on June 11 in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

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.

David Keating | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu
http://www.glbrc.org

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers invent tiny, light-powered wires to modulate brain's electrical signals

21.02.2018 | Life Sciences

The “Holy Grail” of peptide chemistry: Making peptide active agents available orally

21.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Atomic structure of ultrasound material not what anyone expected

21.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>