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Bacteria engineered to make propane

Adapted from Rocky Mountain Laboratories/NIAID/NIH

Bacteria engineered to make propane

Propane is used for everything from heating homes to barbecuing ribs on the grill. It’s produced as a byproduct in the production of natural gas and oil refining. Now, bacteria are getting in on the act. Researchers in the United Kingdom and Finland report this week in Nature Communications that they’ve engineered gut microbes called Escherichia coli to make the fuel. To do so, they co-opted the bacteria’s machinery for making cell membranes, instead turning fatty acid molecules into propane. Eventually, they hope to transfer this ability into photosynthetic bacteria, which would then be able to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into fuel. Read more about the work in The Telegraph and Phys.org.

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