An LSU researcher is creating a way to use deadly bacteria to more cheaply produce biofuels and plastics like biodiesel.
The university announced that mechanical engineering graduate student Tatiana Mello of Piracicaba, Brazil, is working on genetically engineering and optimizing E. coli bacteria to produce bioproducts. Mello proposes using the bacteria to expand biodiesel production by creating a new type of feedstock, the oil from which these products are made.
“The main feedstocks used in the U.S. for biodiesel are soybean and corn oil,” she says. “The actual production is enough to feed us, but you have the surplus that nobody knew what to do with, so biodiesel was created. This market is growing and growing. They expect within a few decades, the surplus won’t be enough to produce biodiesel. E. coli is cheap and abundant, and you can just genetically modify it to fulfill this need.”
Mello’s main goal is to create Malonyl-CoA bioproducts, such as biodiesel, plastics, polymers, and pharmaceuticals. Malonyl-CoA is found in bacteria from humans and has important roles in regulating metabolism and food intake; it’s also an attractive target for drug discovery. Read the full story.