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Engineered bugs could 'turn plant material into biofuels'

December 2, 2010 - Washington

New research from Concordia University shows that bacterium can be engineered to transform plant material into biofuels or other chemicals.

Concordia biology professor Vincent Martin and student Andrew Wieczorek demonstrated how structural or scaffolding proteins on the surface of the bacteria can be engineered in Lactococcus lactis towards the breakdown of plant material.

"This is the first study to show how the scaffolding proteins, can be secreted and localized to the cell surface of Lactococcus," said Martin.

"Exporting these proteins and localizing them to the outside of the cell is a huge milestone. This can enhance the efficiency of any bioprocesses or the breakdown of organic materials."

What's promising about this research, he stresses, is how the scaffolding proteins of Lactococcus lactis appear to bond with multiple compounds.

"Our next step will be to engineer larger more complex scaffolds that can encourage other bio-processes that can eventually enhance the yield of fuels in a manner that is commercially viable."

The study appears in the journal Microbial Cell Factories.


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