Can engineered bugs help generate biofuels? Study holds promise

Dec 01, 2010

The versatile organism Lactococcus lactis, the workhorse bacterium that helps turn milk into cheese, may also be valuable in the understanding of how microbes turn the organic compound cellulose into biofuels.

New research from Concordia University, published in the journal Microbial Cell Factories, suggests the can be engineered to transform plant material into biofuels or other chemicals.

Concordia biology professor Vincent Martin and his PhD student Andrew Wieczorek demonstrated how structural or scaffolding proteins on the surface of the bacteria can be engineered in Lactococcus lactis towards the breakdown of plant material.

They showed how these scaffold proteins were successful in providing a stable surface outside the cell for chemical activity, e.g. the transformation of into biofuels.

"This is the first study to show how the scaffolding proteins, can be secreted and localized to the of Lactococcus," says Dr. Martin, who is also Canada Research Chair in Microbial Genomics and Engineering.

"Exporting these proteins and localizing them to the outside of the cell is a huge milestone. This can enhance the efficiency of any bioprocesses or the breakdown of organic materials."

What's promising about this research, stresses Professor Martin, is how the scaffolding proteins of Lactococcus lactis appear to bond with multiple compounds. "Our next step will be to engineer larger more complex scaffolds that can encourage other bio-processes that can eventually enhance the yield of fuels in a manner that is commercially viable."

Explore further: Scientists seek cure for devastating witches' broom disease of the chocolate tree

More information: "Engineering the cell surface display of cohesins for assembly of cellulosome-inspired enzyme complexes on Lactococcus lactis," was published in Microbial Cell Factories. www.microbialcellfactories.com/content/9/1/69

Provided by Concordia University

not rated yet

Related Stories

Advance in understanding cellulose synthesis

Jun 14, 2009

Cellulose is a fibrous molecule that makes up plant cell walls, gives plants shape and form and is a target of renewable, plant-based biofuels research. But how it forms, and thus how it can be modified to design energy-rich ...

Research Reveals How Materials Direct Cell Response

Apr 18, 2005

New Georgia Tech research indicates how cells “sense” differences in biomaterial surface chemistry. The findings explain how biomaterials influence cells and could be used to develop new classes of materials to improve ...

Recommended for you

Breaking down DNA by genome

1 hour ago

New DNA sequencing technologies have greatly advanced genomic and metagenomic studies in plant biology. Scientists can readily obtain extensive genetic information for any plant species of interest, at a relatively low cost, ...

Identifying the source of stem cells

Oct 30, 2014

When most animals begin life, cells immediately begin accepting assignments to become a head, tail or a vital organ. However, mammals, including humans, are special. The cells of mammalian embryos get to ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.