MessageToEagle.com - Blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) can affect health and causes other water quality
and environmental problems when it accumulates and forms `blooms' in fresh water.
The accumulation of these tiny organisms is dangerous because it can release harmful toxins into the environment.
Chemists at the University of California, Davis, have engineered blue-green
algae to grow chemical precursors for fuels and plastics — the first step in replacing fossil fuels as raw materials
for the chemical industry.
"Most chemical feedstocks come from petroleum and natural gas, and we need other sources," said Shota Atsumi,
assistant professor of chemistry at UC Davis and lead author of the study published Jan. 7 in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The U.S. Department of Energy has set a goal of obtaining a quarter of industrial chemicals from biological processes
Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, can be engineered to make raw materials
for fuels and chemicals from sunlight.
Biological reactions are good at forming carbon-carbon bonds, using carbon dioxide as a raw material for reactions
powered by sunlight. It's called photosynthesis, and cyanobacteria, also known as "blue-green algae," have been doing
it for more than 3 billion years.
Using cyanobacteria to grow chemicals has other advantages: They do not compete with food needs, like corn’s role
in the creation of ethanol.
The challenge is to get the cyanobacteria to make significant amounts of chemicals that can be readily converted
to chemical feedstocks. With support from Japanese chemical manufacturer Asahi Kasei Corp., Atsumi's lab at UC Davis
has been working on introducing new chemical pathways into the cyanobacteria.
The researchers identified enzymes from online databases that carried out the reactions they were looking for, and
then introduced the DNA for these enzymes into the cells.
Working a step at a time, they built up a three-step pathway that allows the cyanobacteria to convert carbon dioxide into 2,3 butanediol, a chemical that can be used
to make paint, solvents, plastics and fuels.
Because enzymes may work differently in different organisms, it is nearly impossible to predict how well the pathway
will work before testing it in an experiment, Atsumi said.
After three weeks growth, the cyanobacteria yielded 2.4 grams of 2,3 butanediol per liter of growth medium — the
highest productivity yet achieved for chemicals grown by cyanobacteria and with potential for commercial development,
Atsumi hopes to tune the system to increase productivity further and experiment with other products, while corporate
partners explore scaling up the technology.
Co-authors of the paper are graduate student John Oliver, postdoctoral researcher Iara Machado and Hisanari Yoneda,
a visiting researcher from Asahi Kasei Corp.
Don't Be Afraid! - They Can Erase Fear From Your Brain
Phobias, post-traumatic stress and panic attacks difficult to live with - can be erased from the human brain.
This research may represent a breakthrough in research on memory and fear, according to researchers from Uppsala University, Sweden
Tractor Beams Of Light -
No Longer Pure Science Fiction!
Science fiction meets real science! "Tractor beams" - fascinating invisible beams that can push and pull objects, leave science fiction domain.
The concept of "tractor beam" used in science fiction films and books to haul spaceships and capture floating capsules gains scientific attention.