Biofuels Production projects
Genetic Tools for Thermophiles
The ability to grow at high temperatures makes thermophiles attractive for many fermentation processes. However, the lack of genetic tools makes these organisms difficult to study and, more importantly, to engineer. This project is developing a suite of genetic tools to enable researchers to metabolically engineer thermophiles for the efficient production of diverse biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass.
Rao’s team has developed a suite of tools for rapidly engineering the thermophilic bacterium Geobacillus thermoglucosidius. They engineered strains of Geobacillus thermoglucosidius capable of efficiently producing ethanol from C5, C6, and C12 sugars. Group members also have characterized protein secretion in Geobacillus thermoglucosidius. This characterization will facilitate the development of a thermophilic host for efficient and low-cost enzyme production.
Rao’s group characterized the growth characteristics and tolerance to fuels for thermophilic Geobacillus. They also developed improved protocols for transforming and expressing recombinant proteins in Geobacillus.