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Bacteria for Fuels and Chemicals
L. O. Ingram, S.
Zhou, K.T. Shanmugam, B.E. Wood, & T.B. Causey
|Development of new
industries that produce renewable fuels and chemicals from
plant biomass using genetically engineered bacteria
|Bacteria are capable
of efficiently transforming all of the sugar constituents of
plants into a myriad of solvents, fuels, and other chemicals
as renewable alternatives to petroleum-based chemicals.
has provided new genetic tools and an extensive background
of information concerning the biochemistry, physiology and
genetic code of microorganisms.
wealth of background information with new genetic tools now
allow the rational redesign of cellular metabolism to
produce specific products of commercial interest.
|Our early studies
demonstrated the feasibility of this metabolic engineering
approach by replacing the mixed acid fermentation pathway in
one organism with a homo-ethanol pathway (like that in
yeasts) from another bacterium.
were unlike any previously known from nature and efficiently
convert hexose and pentose sugars into ethanol.
|Based in part on
this demonstration, subsequent researchers have now
engineered many new bacterial biocatalysts for the
commercial production of propanediols (Cargil, Dupont),
pyruvate (assorted small foreign companies), lactate (Tate
and Lyle), succinic acid (Carbochemicals), ethanol (BCI,
Marubaeni-TSK. others), and 3-hydroxypropionate (Cargill).
has demonstrated the feasibility engineering strains for
acetic acid, propanol, acetone and other solvents with many
opportunities yet to be explored.
|The combination of
investment in fundamental research to expand the range of
possibility coupled with the desire by many to improve the
environment and long-term profitability by replacing
petroleum-based chemicals with cleaner, greener,
renewable products offers the near term opportunity for many
new industries and many new jobs.
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