Biofuel From Bacteria – Scientists’ New Study Could Boost Biofuel Sector
Scientists at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) developed a method to improve the sugar content and growth rate of a marine microorganism Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 which could uplift the biofuel sector.
The nitrogen source and the availability of low-cost and sustainable supply of sugars influence most of the biotechnological processes, including biofuel production. Sugar is available from plants that utilize light energy through photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide to biological components like proteins, lipids, and sugars.
Sugar can also be produced by some bacteria such as cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) who can perform photosynthesis, and the yield from these bacteria could be much higher than that of land-based crops. These bacteria can also act as a nitrogen source in the form of proteins.
Both freshwater and marine water can have cyanobacteria. As freshwater sources are getting scarce, it would be better to use marine cyanobacteria. But, in order to improve the economic feasibility of marine cyanobacteria-based sugar production, there is a need to significantly improve their growth rates and sugar content.
Dr. Shireesh Srivastava an investigator in the DBT-ICGEB Centre for Advanced Bioenergy Research, andJai Kumar Gupta, a Ph.D. student at ICGEB, led the team behind this new study on bacteria that can boost the biofuel sector.
The team engineered Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002, a marine cyanobacterium with higher sugar content and growth rate. The glycogen content increased by 50% and the growth rate double when grown the cyanobacteria on air.
There are many other Synechococcus species and related organisms to which the study can be extended, said Dr. Srivastava.
The researchers are conducting several studies to scale up the culture to a larger volume and to grow the bacteria on urea from animal or human urine. They also intend to optimize the extraction of proteins and sugars from the bacterial biomass as well as to produce biotechnological products like bioethanol from the processed biomass.
The research was sponsored by the Department of Biotechnology, and it was published in the journal `Biotechnology for Biofuels’.
Editor’s Note; Biofuel from bacteria, cyanobacteria biomass, ICGEB scientists, increased growth rate, and sugar production.