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JBEI researchers engineer E. Coli to produce gasoline, diesel and jet fuel substitutes or precursors directly from switchgrass without external enzyme assistance
29 November 2011

Researchers with the US Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have engineered the first strains of Escherichia coli bacteria that can utilize both the cellulose and hemicellulose fractions of switchgrass pre-treated with ionic liquids to produce gasoline, diesel and jet fuel substitutes or precursors without any assistance from enzyme additives.

While this is not the first demonstration of E. coli producing fuel molecules from sugars, it is the first demonstration of E. coli producing molecules suited for all three major forms of transportation fuels. Furthermore, it was done using switchgrass, which is among the most highly touted of the potential feedstocks for advanced biofuels.

Jay Keasling, CEO of JBEI who also holds appointments with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkley, is the corresponding author of an open access paper describing the work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
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