Engineered microbes grow in the dark

May 20, 2013

Scientists at the University of California, Davis have engineered a strain of photosynthetic cyanobacteria to grow without the need for light. They report their findings today at the 113th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

"In this work, we used synthetic biology approaches to probe and rewire photoautotrophic (exclusively relying on carbon dioxide and light energy for growth) cyanobacterial for the ability to grow without light energy," says Jordan McEwen, the lead researcher on the study. He is part of Shota Atsumi's lab at the university, a research group focused on developing capable of converting carbon dioxide directly to biofuels.

The cyanobacterium strain Synechococcus elongatus strain PCC 7942 has been well characterized as a model photoautotroph. Previous work by Atsumi's lab has engineered this organism to recycle into a variety of biofuels and valuable chemicals in the presence of light. Any cost-effective, cyanobacterial biofuel production scheme would use natural lighting conditions, limiting how much biofuel could be produced in a 24-hour period.

"To overcome this constraint, we installed foreign genes into S. elongatus to allow this cyanobacterium to grow and generate biofuels in diurnal (light or dark) conditions," says McEwen. "With recent, increased focus on -based industrial applications, this advancement is desirable for more efficient, economical and controllable bioproduction systems."

Explore further: 'Synthetic biology' could replace oil for chemical industry

Related Stories

Engineered bacteria make fuel from sunlight

January 7, 2013

Chemists at the University of California, Davis, have engineered blue-green algae to grow chemical precursors for fuels and plastics—the first step in replacing fossil fuels as raw materials for the chemical industry.

Engineering alternative fuel with cyanobacteria

January 7, 2013

(Phys.org)—Sandia National Laboratories Truman Fellow Anne Ruffing has engineered two strains of cyanobacteria to produce free fatty acids, a precursor to liquid fuels, but she has also found that the process cuts the bacteria's ...

Genome-scale model of cyanobacterium developed

April 11, 2012

(Phys.org) -- In an important step toward engineering bacteria to produce biofuel, scientists have developed one of the first global models for the nitrogen-fixing photosynthetic cyanobacterium Cyanothece sp. ATCC 51142 (see ...

Recommended for you

Ants need work-life balance, research suggests

January 16, 2017

As humans, we constantly strive for a good work-life balance. New findings by researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology suggest that ants, long perceived as the workaholics of the insect world, do the same.

New tools will drive greater understanding of wheat genes

January 16, 2017

Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientists have developed a much-needed genetic resource that will greatly accelerate the study of gene functions in wheat. The resource, a collection of wheat seeds with more than 10 million ...

How China is poised for marine fisheries reform

January 16, 2017

As global fish stocks continue sinking to alarmingly low levels, a joint study by marine fisheries experts from within and outside of China concluded that the country's most recent fisheries conservation plan can achieve ...

SMiLE-seq: A new technique speeds up genetics

January 16, 2017

Scientists at EPFL have developed a technique that can be a game-changer for genetics by making the characterization of DNA-binding proteins much faster, more accurate, and efficient.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

praos
1 / 5 (3) May 20, 2013
What's this, a perpetual motion organisam? Wherefrom comes the energy to drive reduction of the dioxide?

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.