Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bacteria are key to ’green’ plastics, drugs

24.08.2005


Engineered bug makes key chemical precursor from grain sorghum



Trials have begun in Kansas on a "green" production method for succinate, a key ingredient of many plastics, drugs, solvents and food additives. Developed at Rice University, the technology uses a genetically modified form of the bacteria E. coli that metabolizes glucose and produces almost pure succinate.

Finding "green" methods to make key chemical intermediates like succinate is a high priority for the chemical industry. Green technologies use renewable resources like agricultural crops rather than non-renewable fossil fuels, and they produce less waste.


"Succinate is a high-priority chemical that the U.S. Department of Energy has targeted for biosynthesis," said process co-developer George Bennett, professor and chair of the department of biochemistry and cell biology at Rice. "One reason for this is succinate’s broad utility -- it can be used to make everything from non-corrosive airport deicers and non-toxic solvents to plastics, drugs and food additives. Succinate’s also a priority because some bacteria make it naturally, so we have a metabolic starting place for large-scale fermentation."

The centerpiece of Rice’s succinate technology is a mutant form of E. coli that makes succinate as it’s only metabolic byproduct. The bug contains more than a half-dozen genetic modifications. It was created over the past four years by the research groups of Bennett and collaborator Ka-Yiu San, the E.D. Butcher Professor of Bioengineering and professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

The technology is taking its first step from the lab to the marketplace this month with the start of industrial scale-up efforts in Kansas. These efforts resulted from an $80,000 award from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Bennett and San are working with Manhattan, Kansas-based AgRenew Inc., which just began testing how to use farm-grown products like grain sorghum as feedstocks for the succinate-producing bacteria.

"We are very pleased for the opportunity to continue our collaboration with our colleagues from Rice and work to further the development and commercialization of the succinate technology," said Praveen Vadlani, principal research scientist for AgRenew. "We are excited about the prospects this project offers to meet a market need for the benefit of both institutions and American agriculture itself. We also appreciate the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for this work to create another high-value product from agriculture."

Many researchers are trying to create a succinate-producing bacterial mutant. They use biotechnology to either insert genes that boost succinate production or delete genes that interfere with it. The goal is to maximize the rate -- the speed of the conversion -- and the yield -- the amount of succinate produced per pound of glucose converted.

Bennett and San’s bug -- known only by the designation SBS550MG -- contains an ingenious bit of metabolic engineering that allows it to produce succinate in two different ways. One method exists in wild strains of E. coli and has been modified with the deletion of four genes, each of which codes for a protein that interferes with or limits E. coli’s ability to turn glucose into succinate. Bennett and San activated a second pathway and stimulated production by adding genes from lactococcus bacteria and sorghum.

Each genetic pathway metabolizes glucose and produces succinate via dissimilar chemical reactions. That means the two don’t compete or interfere with one another. In fact, Bennett and San designed the paths to be complimentary, but even so, they were gratified to see how well the process worked once both paths were put in place.

"Our experiments in the laboratory have produced near-maximum yields, with almost all the glucose being converted into succinate," said San. "The implementation was actually easier than we expected because the cells did the balancing themselves."

Bennett and San said they will continue to refine the organism to produce higher yields and fewer byproducts.

Jade Boyd | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rice.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Individual Receptors Caught at Work
19.10.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Rapid environmental change makes species more vulnerable to extinction
19.10.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>