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article imageEnlisting bacteria to make ‘green’ nylon

By Tim Sandle     Mar 1, 2020 in Science
Using bacteria to convert sugars into “green” products, such as polymer precursors for nylon, is progressing due to advances with metabolic engineering such as a specially designed biosensor from Los Alamos.
Working with the soil bacterium, Pseudomonas putida (strain KT2440), biotechnologists, in partnership with two other U.S. national laboratories (National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory), have found a way to identify and delete three genes of the P. putida genes that were making the production of muconate difficult.
The Los Alamos project forms part of the Agile BioFoundry, which is a multi-national lab consortium funded by U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO).
“Using the LANL-created biosensor we were able to screen the microbe for both growth and muconate production simultaneously” explains Niju Narayanan, a lead contributor to this research.
Muconate is vital to the non-petrochemical production of polymer products such as nylon and PET (Polyethylene terephthalate). There is no precise form of nylon; the term refers to a generic family of synthetic polymers, that share a similarity by being based on aliphatic or semi-aromatic polyamides.
According to another of the researchers, Ramesh Jha: “As far as we know, this work presents the highest muconate titers and productivities from glucose by engineered P. putida reported to date.”
Through this the researchers have successfully managed to apply biosensors for a specific microbial strain. The scientists found that deletion of the transcriptional repressor gene hexR improved strain growth and increased the muconate production rate.
Jha adds: “Improving productivity by 3-fold was made possible with Smart Microbial Cell Technology, producing a commodity chemical with a world market value of more than $40 billion dollars.”
The research has been published in the journal Metabolic Engineering. The research paper is titled “Engineering glucose metabolism for enhanced muconic acid production in Pseudomonas putida KT2440.”
More about nylon, Fabric, Green technology, Bacteria, Microbiology
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