Chinese scientists develop new route for artificial starch synthesis from CO2

September 28, 2021 |

In China, scientists recently reported a de novo route for artificial starch synthesis from carbon dioxide (CO2) for the first time. Relevant results were published in Science on Sept. 24.

The new route makes it possible to shift the mode of starch production from traditional agricultural planting to industrial manufacturing, and opens up a new technical route for synthesizing complex molecules from CO2.

Starch is the major component of grain as well as an important industrial raw material. At present, it is mainly produced by crops such as maize by fixing CO2 through photosynthesis. This process involves about 60 biochemical reactions as well as complex physiological regulation. The theoretical energy conversion efficiency of this process is only about 2%.

Strategies for the sustainable supply of starch and use of CO2 are urgently needed to overcome major challenges of mankind, such as the food crisis and climate change. Designing novel routes other than plant photosynthesis for converting CO2 to starch is an important and innovative S&T mission and will be a significant disruptive technology in today’s world.

To address this issue, scientists at the Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology (TIB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) designed a chemoenzymatic system as well as an artificial starch anabolic route consisting of only 11 core reactions to convert CO2 into starch.

This route was established by a “building block” strategy, in which the researchers integrated chemical and biological catalytic modules to utilize high-density energy and high-concentration CO2 in a biotechnologically innovative way.

The researchers systematically optimized this hybrid system using spatial and temporal segregation by addressing issues such as substrate competition, product inhibition, and thermodynamical adaptation.

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Category: Research

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