Nav: Home

Mass biofuel production without mass antibiotic use

August 04, 2016

Rather than applying mass amounts of antibiotics to vats of biofuel-producing microorganisms to keep control these cultures, researchers have developed a new technique using modified strains that outcompete other possible contaminating microbes. The modified strains consume xenobiotic nutrients, which are not naturally produced or degraded by most microorganisms, so only the biofuel-producing microbes can use them to grow. The use of biofuels is poised as a more sustainable energy source compared to traditional, oil- or gas-based ones, yet mass production of biofuels remains challenging. For example, mass production of fuels from microorganisms would require cultivation in large reservoirs; if other microbes start growing in these carefully controlled reactors, it will negatively affect yield and productivity. In search for a solution, Arthur Shaw et al. sought to create strains of microbes that could outcompete other contaminant strains while still supporting biofuel production. They call this new technique: robust operation by utilization of substrate technology (ROBUST). First, the team engineered an Escherichia coli strain to use melamine as a nutrient, a substance not normally used by other bacteria. The modified strain quickly outcompeted a wild-type strain in melamine-rich cultures. The process also worked in two yeast species. The researchers modified strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to utilize cyanide and phosphite for nutrients. As well, a strain of Yarrowia lipolytica was modified to use phosphite. Both modified strains outcompeted their control counterparts in a cyanide and/or phosphite medium that was applied to cultures of sugarcane juice and wheat straw lignocellulosic hydrolysate, two broadly available industrial feedstocks. The authors note that several other types of potential biofuel products that could benefit from ROBUST, although further research is needed. A Perspective by Rebecca Lennen discusses this development in greater detail.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Biofuels Articles:

Barriers and opportunities in renewable biofuels production
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have identified two main challenges for renewable biofuel production from cheap sources.
How biofuels from plant fibers could combat global warming
A study from Colorado State University finds new promise for biofuels produced from switchgrass, a non-edible native grass that grows in many parts of North America.
Calculating the CO2 emissions of biofuels is not enough
A new EU regulation aims to shrink the environmental footprint of biofuels starting in 2021.
Algae cultivation technique could advance biofuels
Washington State University researchers have developed a way to grow algae more efficiently -- in days instead of weeks -- and make the algae more viable for several industries, including biofuels.
Cutting the cost of ethanol, other biofuels and gasoline
Biofuels like the ethanol in US gasoline could get cheaper thanks to experts at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and Michigan State University.
More Biofuels News and Biofuels Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...