Mining Bacterial Blueprints Yields Novel Process for Creation of Fuel and Chemical Compounds
August 05, 2014
A team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has identified the genes and enzymes that create a promising compound — the 19 carbon furan-containing fatty acid (19Fu-FA). The compound has a variety of potential uses as a biological alternative for compounds currently derived from fossil fuels.
Researchers from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), which is headquartered at UW-Madison and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, discovered the cellular genomes that direct 19Fu-FA’s synthesis and published the new findings Aug. 4 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“We’ve identified previously uncharacterized genes in a bacterium that are also present in the genomes of many other bacteria,” says Tim Donohue, GLBRC director and UW-Madison bacteriologyprofessor. “So, we are now in the exciting position to mine these other bacterial genomes to produce large quantities of fatty acids for further testing and eventual use in many industries, including the chemical and fuel industries.”