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Global Bioenergy Industry News

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Monday, September 28, 2009
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Biofuel from TB Bacteria

US - A team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are attempting to engineer biofuel-producing microbes from Rhodococcus bacteria — soil-dwelling microbes that eat a variety of toxic compounds.

The aim of Professor Anthony Sinskey's team is to make an organism that produces biofuel, which can use a variety of fuel sources.

According to a Cleantech report, the bacteria strain is related to the type that causes tuberculosis and the researchers say it works well because the bacteria are hungry for a number of sugars and toxic compounds and produce lipids that can be converted to biodiesel.

Prof Sinskey has already developed a way to make polymers from bacteria.

Now that the team has worked out the basic chemistry and biology, it is now looking to get the best possible yields and the research could be continuing for another two or three years, the report says.

They have created a strain of the bacteria that can eat a mix of two types of glucose and xylose, and have also engineered strains that can feed on glycerol, a waste product of biodiesel production.

The research is part of a bigger effort MIT has embarked on to develop biofuels using synthetic biology.

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