Multifunctional microbe simplifies processing of plant-derived fuels, chemicals

September 20, 2020 |

In Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists have modified a single microbe to simultaneously digest five of the most abundant components of lignocellulosic biomass. This is a big step forward in the development of a cost-effective biochemical conversion process to turn plants into renewable fuels and chemicals.

With support from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office, the Agile BioFoundry team at ORNL engineered the Pseudomonas putida bacterium to consume glucose, xylose, arabinose, coumaric acid, and acetic acid simultaneously in a single bioreactor. This achievement eliminates the need for multiple tanks and microbes for each of those components.

The “one-pot” process also breaks down lignin—traditionally a waste product of biomass conversion—so that every part of the plant can be used to create valuable products. Researchers will work to further optimize the microbe to valorize plant components to create clean, domestic, sustainably sourced fuels and chemicals to support the bioeconomy.

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Category: Research

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