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 A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>