Wednesday, August 10, 2011 E. coli metabolism reversed for speedy production of fuels, chemicals

Rice University engineering researchers Ramon Gonzalez (left) and Clementina Dellomonaco reversed one of the most efficient of all metabolic pathways -- the beta oxidation cycle -- to engineer bacteria that make biofuels at a breakneck pace.

  • Gonzalez's laboratory is in a race with hundreds of labs around the world to find green methods for producing chemicals like butanol

  • "We call these 'drop-in' fuels and chemicals, because their structure and properties are very similar, sometimes identical, to petroleum-based products," he said.

  • In the Nature study, Gonzalez's team reversed the beta oxidation cycle by selectively manipulating about a dozen genes in the bacteria Escherichia coli.

 I saw this story referenced by Rand Simberg's blog.   I don't like to be negative, but has anybody considered what might happen if this gets into the environment?  I mean, this stuff gets inside living organisms, it could be all she wrote.  Bad stuff.

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