Biofuels Production programs

Engineering Thermophiles for Biofuel Production

The goal of this project is to develop a thermophilic bacterium for the production of lignocellulosic biofuels. Towards these aims, we have previously developed a suite of genetic tools for engineering the thermophiles from the genus Geobacillus. These tools are being applied to develop Geobacillus for fuel and enzyme productions (started in 2012)

program Highlights

2014 Highlights

The first goal of this program is to develop the thermophilic bacterium Geobacillus sp. for the production of enzymes and biofuels. The ability to grow at high temperatures makes thermophiles attractive for many fermentation processes, specifically with regards to hygiene and separation. Over that past few years, we have developed a genetic toolkit for engineering multiple strains of G. thermoglucosidans. In addition, we have identified a strain that secretes proteins at high titers. Our present work focuses on improving ethanol production in multiple strains of G. thermoglucosidans, each with unique metabolic capabilities, and developing G. thermoglucosidans for the heterologous production of enzymes. The second goal is to develop oleaginous yeast for the production of diesel-like molecules. Oleaginous yeast are promising organisms for the production of lignocellulosic biodiesel as they can accumulate upwards of 80% of their dry weight as lipids. While these organisms possess unique properties that make them ideal in many ways for producing lipids, their applicability for large-scale biodiesel production is limited primarily because these organisms are obligate aerobes. From a production standpoint, this limits the economic feasibility of large-scale processes. To improve the efficiency of lipid production in yeast, we are pursuing two complementary aims: reduce the oxygen demand in the model oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica by reprogramming fatty acid biosynthesis, and develop the oleaginous Rhodosporidium toruloides for the efficient production of lipids.

2013 Highlights

The goal of this program is to develop the thermophilic bacterium Geobacillus sp. for the production of enzymes and biofuels. The ability to grow at high temperatures makes thermophiles attractive for many fermentation processes, specifically with regards to hygiene and separation. Over that past few years, we have developed a genetic toolkit for engineering multiple strains of G. thermoglucosidans. In addition, we have identified a strain that secretes proteins at high titers. Our present work focuses on improving ethanol production in multiple strains of G. thermoglucosidans, each with unique metabolic capabilities, and developing G. thermoglucosidans for the heterologous production of enzymes. 

2012 Highlights

The goal of this project is to develop Geobacillus glucosidans for biofuel production. This bacterium is a facultative anaerobe that grows at an optimal temperature of 65˚C. To achieve these aims, we have developed a modular toolkit for genetically engineering multiple strains of Geobacillus. As proof of principle, we have used these tools to engineer an ethanol-producing strain using a novel design. We are now applying these tools to produce other fuels in Geobacillus. Our primary efforts are now focused on developing Geobacillus for enzyme production. We have identified a Geobacillus strain capable of secreting protein at high titer and characterized its secretome on multiple carbon sources. We have also engineered a strain capable of secreting heterologous proteins.

Publications

Published in 2014

Development and Physiological Characterization of Cellobiose-Consuming Yarrowia lipolytica, S. Lane, S. Zhang, N. Wei, C. V. Rao, Y-S Jin, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, doi: 10.1002/bit.25499, Nov. 25, 2014.

 

Expression of a Xylose-Specific Transporter Improves Ethanol Production By Metabolically Engineered Zymomonas mobilis, K. L. Dunn, C. V. Rao, Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, V. 98 (15), pp. 6897-6905, May 17, 2014.

 


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