Research press release


Nature Communications

Biomechanics: Bacteria may provide the key to sustainable energy



今回、Patrik Jonesたちは、実験室で操作された大腸菌を用いて、化石燃料の一種であるプロパンを合成する経路を初めて実証した。つまり、大腸菌の脂肪酸経路を操作し、大腸菌独自の機構を利用して、持続可能な方法によるプロパン生産を実現したのだ。当初の生産量は少なかったが、Jonesたちは、必須の生化学的構成成分を同定し、これを添加することで、生合成反応を促進し、特定の大腸菌株を用いて、かなりの量のプロパンを合成できるようにした。


Microbes have been genetically engineered to produce renewable propane for the first time, reports a study published this week in Nature Communications. Propane is a major component of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) with an existing global market for a wide number of applications.

Global fuel is in short supply and there is now a major focus on economically sustainable alternatives. Propane has been suggested as a viable biofuel because it can more easily be separated and stored as a liquid than some other fuel alternatives such as hydrogen, methane or butanol.

Patrik Jones and colleagues have shown for the first time how E. coli can be engineered in the laboratory to produce a synthetic pathway for this fossil fuel. Researchers manipulated the fatty acid pathway in E. coli and used the organism’s own machinery to produce propane in a renewable manner. Although the initial yields were low, the team were able to identify and add essential biochemical components in order to boost the biosynthesis reaction, enabling a specific E. coli strain to synthesize propane in considerable amounts.

Importantly, this propane-generating pathway is able to operate in the presence of oxygen, which opens up avenues for the application of this system in cyanobacteria, a type of bacteria that are powered by solar energy and have minimal nutritional requirements.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms5731

「Nature 関連誌注目のハイライト」は、ネイチャー広報部門が報道関係者向けに作成したリリースを翻訳したものです。より正確かつ詳細な情報が必要な場合には、必ず原著論文をご覧ください。

メールマガジンリストの「Nature 関連誌今週のハイライト」にチェックをいれていただきますと、毎週最新のNature 関連誌のハイライトを皆様にお届けいたします。