Scientists at the Department of Energy Joint Bioenergy Institute have engineered a bacteria strain of the e.coli which will chew up plants and excrete bio diesel. The JBEI teamed with LS9 for the project and aims to do so on an industrial scale.
IF SCIENTISTS are to believed, we will soon be fulfilling our oil requirements from a bacteria that can chew up plants and excrete bio diesel. The Department of Energy Joint Bioenergy Institute has published a paper in the journal Nature that they have engineered a bacteria strain to produce biodiesel.
The bacteria is a strain of the Escheria Coli or e.coli which spits out fatty esters or bio diesel, alcohols and waxes from sugar. They tweaked the strain so that it produces more fat then it would do normally, also ensuring that it did not consume this fat. They then engineered the e.coli bacteria to produce enzymes that would break down the complex sugars found in cell walls.
Ideally, they believe that this will lead to tiny, self contained oil wells.
For this project, the JBEI team worked with scientists from LS9, a company founded by Harvard geneticist George Church, hoping to get sucess from the project at a level at which they can milk it for financial gains, that is, make it into an industrial process, producing this oil at a large scale on a reasonable price.
The goal for such projects is to create organisms like algae, bacteria or yeasts which directly turn energy inputs like sunlight, sugars, carbon dioxide, oxygen, into fuels and chemicals.