Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cyanobacterium Found in Algae Collection Holds Promise for Biotech Applications

05.02.2015

Scientists have re-discovered a fast-growing bacterial strain first described in 1955

Cyanobacteria, bacteria that obtain their energy through photosynthesis, are of considerable interest as bio-factories, organisms that could be harnessed to generate a range of industrially useful products.


Washington University in St. Louis

Engineered cyanobacteria could serve as miniature bio-factories that could sequester carbon, produce biofuel. pr synthesize valuable chemicals of novel pharmaceuticals. Looking to overcome sluggish growth, scientists have recovered a fast-growing strain from a contaminated culture in the UTEX algae collection.

Part of their appeal is that they can grow on sunlight and carbon dioxide alone and thus could contribute to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and moving away from a petrochemical-based economy.

However, familiar cyanobacterial strains grow more slowly than the bacterial and yeast bio-factories already in use, and their genetic and metabolic networks are not as well understood.

So it was exciting news when a group of scientists led by Himadri B. Pakrasi, PhD, the Myron and Sonya Glassberg/Albert and Blanche Greensfelder Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, reported in the Sept. 30 issue of Scientific Reports that they have identified a fast growing cyanobacterial strain, called Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973.

Rapid growth may allow this cyanobacterial strain to outcompete contaminating ones and eventually to synthesize larger quantities of biofuel or other valuable products.

It also has the more immediate benefit of making it easier to do the experimental work needed to understand the bacterium well enough that it can serve as a “chassis” that can be retooled for a variety of purposes. Because other cyanobacterial strains grow sluggishly, it takes weeks or months to perform experiments with them that can be performed in E. coli or yeast in days.

The newly identified strain might ultimately prove useful for carbon sequestration, biofuel production, biosynthesis of valuable chemicals and the search for novel pharmaceuticals.

“What intrigues me most about these microbes is their ingenuity,” Pakrasi said. “They have somehow figured out how to multiply rapidly by using sunlight and carbon dioxide very efficiently.” Pakrasi, who also serves as director of Washington University’s International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability (I-CARES), and has been a prominent advocate of cyanobacterial synthetic biology for a decade.

Hiding in plain sight
Like the famous purloined letter, the cyanobacterial strain was hiding in plain sight — or to be precise, in a collection of algae cultures at the University of Texas in Austin. (Cyanobacteria are sometimes called blue-green algae, but this a misnomer.)

Although most cyanobacteria grow slowly, in 1955 two scientists at the University of Texas at Austin described a fast-growing cyanobacterial strain collected from a campus creek.

Whereas most strains grew by 5 to 8 percent per hour, this strain grew by 30 percent per hour. What’s more, it grew fastest at the relatively high temperature of 38 degrees C (104 degrees F). This strain was eventually deposited in the UTEX algae culture collection as Synechococcus leopoliensis UTEX 625.

However, at some point the UTEX 625 strain was contaminated and lost its rapid growth property. The Pakrasi lab obtained a frozen sample of the UTEX strain, and by careful coaxing under appropriate conditions, recovered a pure, fast-growing strain from the mixed culture of the deposited algae.

Under favorable conditions, the newly isolated strain grows at more than 50 percent per hour, the highest growth rate reported to date for any cyanobacterial strain, and almost twice as fast as a widely studied close relative. Since the new strain may not be the one that was described in 1955, the scientists deposited it in the UTEX algae collection as Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973.

Kicking the tires on the new model
To characterize the new strain, Washington University sequenced its genome. To the scientists’ surprise, the new strain turned out to be remarkably similar to a widely studied cyanobacterium, Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942, originally discovered far away from Texas (in lakes in California), that grows only half as fast.

Since the genome sequences of the two strains are 99.8 percent identical, the genetic determinants of rapid growth almost certainly lie in the remaining 0.2 percent.

The proteomes (the set of proteins produced by an organism) of both of these strains were analyzed at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a Department of Energy national scientific user facility located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. This data, which covers 68 percent of the proteins the microbes produce, will guide further work with both strains.

The scientists also showed that the genome of the new strain can be easily manipulated, a characteristic essential to its use as a host for projects in synthetic biology.

“Cyanobacteria have the potential to be the ideal biofactories for sustainable carbon negative production of numerous compounds,” Pakrasi said. “This fast-growing strain should help to realize that dream.”

Contact Information
Diana Lutz
Senior Science Editor
dlutz@wustl.edu
Phone: 314-935-5272

Diana Lutz | newswise
Further information:
http://www.wustl.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>