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posted by janrinok on Tuesday November 23, @10:43PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the don't-feed-the-green-powder-to-the-purple-bacteria dept.

From our energy grid to the manufacturing of certain textiles and other products, many parts of our society are built to use fossil fuels. Transitioning away will come at some cost.

But what if we could produce an economically attractive replacement for fossil fuels? New research from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) suggests a way to do just that. Biologists have devised a way to engineer yeast to produce itaconic acid[*]—a valuable commodity chemical—using data integration and supercomputing power as a guide.

Itaconic acid has enormous potential as a renewable chemical building block. It could substitute for some fossil-fuel-derived products. In 2004, it was named one of the "top value added chemicals from biomass" in a report by the Department of Energy (DOE). Seeing the potential of itaconic acid as a petrochemical replacement, data scientist Neeraj Kumar set out to inexpensively produce it using microbes.

Kumar and colleagues had previously developed a way to calculate how engineered changes in microbes could affect their metabolism. Building upon this idea, Kumar wanted to see if he could use these metabolic predictions to engineer yeast to produce high amounts of itaconic acid.

[*] Itaconic acid on Wikipedia.

Journal Reference:
Designing microbe factories for sustainable chemicals ,

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  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @11:26PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, @11:26PM (#1199084)

    No more dino juice, it's bug juice all the way down from here.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, @02:06AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, @02:06AM (#1199113)

    let's hope this new yeast strain also works for fruitflies and other assorted flying bugs that help dough and beer and fruits "get infected" (*).
    then again, more potentiel munitions for the endless rich fossile fuel lobby: buy " natural" oil or we'll displace (extincti-fy) natural beer-breed yeast with oil-yeast muhahah...
    (*) i assume a "insect" is more then just a hard shell with squishy interior. they (like humans) live with and are surounded by a cloud of "bugs" (microorganisms, like yeast or lactobacilus or e.coli without dorment phages, etc etc); yoghurt, cheese, breed, kimchi with or without chilli, etc. are foods that move and live under the microscope). beer and wine (from stuff between the toe nails and sweet droplets) and vingar are also made by bugs, tho, like human fossile energy development, eventually die in their own "excrement". ^_^