14 Dec '11, 8pm

E. coli can now make 3 kinds of fuel out of grass:

Switchgrass, Dubya’s favorite biofuel feedstock, is back in the news. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute have engineered E. coli -- the same bug that is spoiling the lives of raw cookie dough eaters everywhere -- to transform switchgrass into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. The secret sauce of their solution is the malleability of E. coli genetics, which allowed researchers to add three new metabolic pathways to the bug. The engineered bugs can break down tough cellulose fibers and ferment the resulting sugars into fuels. Without the bacteria, this used to be an energy- and resource-intensive two-step operation. "We already have hydrocarbon fuel production pathways that give far better yields than what we obtained with this demonstration,” says Gregory Bokinsky , a post-doctoral researcher who worked on the project. “And these other pat...

Full article: http://www.grist.org/list/2011-12-14-e.-coli-makes-3-kind...

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