Monash University researchers and others are investigating the potential for biomanufacturing using inputs such as greenhouse gases instead of sugar-based substances to create high-value chemical products.
Monash chemical engineering PhD researcher Wei Jiang — currently on sabbatical at Imperial College London — is lead author on a new paper in Nature Chemical Biology on the potential and challenges of carbon compound biomanufacturing.
“Shifting the input ingredients to carbon compounds offers both an abundance and low cost, as some of these like carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide, are currently waste products from many industries. There are also additional environmental benefits such as the prevention of carbon into the atmosphere, slowing the impact of global warming,” said Jiang said in a statement.
“The exploitation of carbon as an alternative input ingredient for biomanufacturing can improve sustainability through the environmental benefits of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and the reduced cost of production. Engineering of carbon-utilising pathways into high performing biotechnology hosts combines the productivity of industrial microorganisms that can take full advantage of carbon compounds,” said Associate Professor Victoria Haritos, Jiang’s supervisor.
Currently biomanufacturing relies heavily on sugar-based growth media, but there is interest in more sustainable, non-food alternatives, such as industrial byproducts.
Dr Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro of Imperial College said that developing synthetic carbon-utilising microbes relied on advancements in “synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, and adaptive laboratory evolution.”
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