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Crop Biotech Update

Korean Scientists Produce Biogasoline from Engineered Bacteria

October 2, 2013
Press release: Journal reference:

Scientists at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a novel bacterium-based gasoline production system through the metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli. The KAIST scientists have described this biogasoline production strategy in the paper titled "Microbial Production of Short-chain Alkanes" published online in the journal Nature.

Gasoline is made up of short chain hydrocarbons, called alkanes, consisting of 4 to12 carbon atoms. The KAIST research team engineered the fatty acid metabolism in E. coli to provide the fatty acid derivatives that are shorter than normal intracellular fatty acid metabolites, and introduced a novel synthetic pathway that led to the production of short-chain alkanes, a possible substitute for gasoline. The final engineered strain produced up to 580.8 mg per liter of short chain alkanes.

The development of a microbial platform for production of a gasoline substitute is a landmark achievement. Few efforts to metabolically engineer E. coli have resulted in the production of long-chain alkanes suitable for replacing diesel. There has been no report on the microbial production of short-chain alkanes that can replace gasoline.

The research team also showed the possibility of producing fatty esters and alcohols by introducing the responsible enzymes into the same platform strain.