Auburn University research on biomaterials highlighted by Nature Communications

September 7, 2021 |

In Alabama, supported by a $2 million U.S. Department of Energy award issued in 2018, as well as funding from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, insights from the project were recently highlighted by the journal Nature Communications — for obvious reasons. 

Despite tremendous investment over the past decades, developing viable efficient bioprocesses that can achieve high production has been much easier said than done. 

Naturally occurring short-chain, fatty acid esters are the source of the sweet smell in fruits, such as apples, bananas, pineapples and strawberries. They typically find applications as artificial flavorings in food and cosmetics, as well as high-grade solvents used for manufacturing plastics and resins. In addition, esters could be a fuel of desirable properties which can serve as an additive to gasoline, diesel and even jet fuels.

Clostridium strains, a group of bacteria that thrive in the absence of oxygen, are notoriously difficult to manipulate genetically. The Auburn research group is pioneering versatile genome engineering tools for clostridia based on CRISPR, putting his lab at the forefront of this particular research.

In addition to Auburn and Virginia Tech researchers, collaborators from Iowa State University, Tel Aviv University in Israel, Shandong University in China, and University of Science and Technology of China also contributed to the project.

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