French Scientists Discover Enzyme that Uses Light to Produce Hydrocarbons 

Chlorella is a freshwater alga which are cultivated on an industrial scale and have potential for the production of biofuels. Researchers from various French research institutions, led by Damien Sorigue from the University of Aix-Marseille, have discovered an enzyme in Chlorella that allows it to convert fatty acids into hydrocarbons using light energy.

Researchers studied the enzyme by following its activity and determining a list of potential candidate proteins. The team then expressed the enzyme, named Fatty Acid Photodecarboxylase or FAP, in Escherichia coli. The transformed E. coli showed evidence of hydrocarbon production, demonstrating that this enzyme is both necessary and sufficient for hydrocarbon synthesis. Furthermore, this activity requires light.

FAP was found to be at least ten times faster than the best-known enzyme for hydrocarbon synthesis, and uses light. It can provide a biotechnological tool for the synthesis of hydrocarbons.


This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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