Synthetic Biology: Genetically Engineered Bacteria Store Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, but it can also serve as an important raw material for the production of various chemical compounds. Some research groups are therefore working to identify CO2 intercept and use it judiciously before it enters the atmosphere. In “Nature Biotechnology,” a team of researchers now describes progress in which significant amounts of carbon dioxide are converted into industrially useful basic chemical building blocks using genetically engineered bacteria.

The team did it through genetic engineering Clostridium autoethanogenum– The bacteria have changed. These so-called autotrophic bacteria belong to the acetogen family, which means that their metabolism uses various small organic molecules with one or several carbon atoms without sunlight and oxygen. They essentially get energy through carbonate respiration, i.e. transfer electrons from hydrogen to CO, e.g.2. A research group led by Fungmin Eric Liew of Northwestern University has now increased the bacteria’s natural performance and technically optimized the process in such a way that Clostridium-Cultivates chemicals such as acetone and isopropanol from CO2 for production. Both substances are not normally produced by bacteria in nature.

The carbon balance in the process is negative, which means that the bacteria fix more carbon from carbon dioxide than they release. This is important because it is the only way the process can reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is not the case with current processes in which bacteria are used to produce chemical compounds: sugar is usually used as a raw material for fermentation processes by bacteria such as E. coli. But the bottom line is that a lot of greenhouse gases are produced, if only to produce usable sugar.

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