Synthetic biotechnology research may lower biofuels production costs

24 April 2013 19:37  [Source: ICIS news]

CHICAGO (ICIS)--The ability to produce high levels of depolymerisation enzymes can significantly reduce the cost of the production of second-generation biofuels, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said on Wednesday.

“Genome sequencing and trascriptomic analysis allow identification of genes used by microbes to depolymerise the fermentable sugars locked up in cellulose and hemicellulose,” said Isaac Cann, deputy director of the Energy Biosciences Institute at the university.

Lignocellulosic biomass, such as certain grasses, contain bound acetate and sugars, he said at the Bio International Convention.

The university is studying a way to identify a plant gene that adds acetate to sugar-laden hemicellulose in plant cells, which would reduce the level of acetylation in plant feedstocks.

The result could mean lower costs in biofuels production, Cann said.

He added that synthetic biology is offering scientists the ability to synthesize and modify these genes to enhance their expression in protein-expression systems.

The Bio International Convention runs through Thursday.

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By: Tracy Dang
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