Approach helps identify new biofuel sources that don't require farmland

Feb 05, 2014

While the debate over using crops for fuel continues, scientists are now reporting a new, fast approach to develop biofuel in a way that doesn't require removing valuable farmland from the food production chain. Their work examining the fuel-producing potential of Streptomyces, a soil bacterium known for making antibiotics, appears in ACS' The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. The method also could help researchers identify other microbes that could be novel potential fuel sources

Ariane Deniset-Besseau and colleagues point out that with the rise in in recent years, the search has been on for alternative fuels. Though plants such as soy and corn have been popular, the honeymoon ended as people realized how much arable land they were taking up. So now, researchers are seeking additional sources, including bacteria. Streptomyces has become a candidate in this search. It can make and store large amounts of oils called triacylglycerols (TAGs), which are direct precursors of biodiesel. Also, manufacturers already know how to grow vast amounts of it because pharmaceutical companies use the versatile bacterium to produce life-saving antibiotics. To better understand these microbes' potential as a , Deniset-Besseu's team wanted to explore how Streptomyces stores TAGs.

They used a novel laboratory instrument that combines an with a tunable infrared laser source. This instrument allows researchers to determine how and where the bacteria store TAGs. Some strains hardly accumulate any oil, whereas others stored large amounts of oil in a way that might be easy to harvest. The researchers conclude that their technique could greatly speed up the identification of other microbes that could produce large amounts of bio-oil.

Explore further: Green isoprene closer to reality

More information: "Monitoring Triacylglycerols Accumulation by Atomic Force Microscopy Based Infrared Spectroscopy in Streptomyces Species for Biodiesel Applications" J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 2014, 5, pp 654–658. DOI: 10.1021/jz402393a

Abstract
An atomic force microscope coupled with a tunable infrared laser source (AFM-IR) was used to measure the size and map the distribution of oil inclusions inside of microorganism without staining or other special sample preparation. The microorganism under study is Streptomyces, a soil bacterium that possesses the capability, under some specific nutritional conditions, to store its carbon source into TriAcylGlycerols, a potential direct source of biodiesel.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Green isoprene closer to reality

Nov 08, 2013

(Phys.org) —With an eye toward maximizing isoprene production in bacteria, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Washington State University sought to understand isoprene regulation in ...

Biofuel from desert plants grown with seawater

Jan 22, 2014

Aerospace giant Boeing and its research partners in the Middle East said Wednesday they would start field trials after recording progress in making biofuel from desert plants fed with seawater.

Engineered bacterium churns out two new key antibiotics

Feb 18, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- In recent years, scientists have isolated two potent natural antibiotics — platensimycin and platencin — that are highly effective against bacterial infection, including those caused by the most dreaded ...

Recommended for you

Metals go from strength to strength

22 hours ago

To the human hand, metal feels hard, but at the nanoscale it is surprisingly malleable. Push a lump of metal with brute force through a right-angle mould or die, and while it might look much the same to the ...

Chemists achieve molecular first

23 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Chemists from Trinity College Dublin have achieved a long-pursued molecular first by interlocking three molecules through a single point. Developing interlocked molecules is one of the greatest ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Chemists achieve molecular first

(Phys.org) —Chemists from Trinity College Dublin have achieved a long-pursued molecular first by interlocking three molecules through a single point. Developing interlocked molecules is one of the greatest ...

Metals go from strength to strength

To the human hand, metal feels hard, but at the nanoscale it is surprisingly malleable. Push a lump of metal with brute force through a right-angle mould or die, and while it might look much the same to the ...

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...