The development of alternative fuel sources has been driven by factors such as declining oil reserves, reliance on foreign countries for oil, and the environmental impact of oil-based industries. One of the DOE’s Top Value Added Chemicals from Biomass is succinate, which could replace an oil-based commodity chemical market for producing bulk chemicals valued at several billion dollars annually. Researchers are studying the natural succinate producer Actinobacillus succinogenes, to improve the succinate yield. In order to develop and improve low-cost fermentation processes that can ultimately compete with petrochemical routes, researchers will rely on the genomes of several bacteria to discoveri what genes and pathways (including the various sugar metabolic pathways) are present in an engineered microbe, as well as finding out how fluxes respond to mutations, genetic regulation, and environmental stimuli. Ultimately, researchers hope to establish a process in which products derived from oil would be replaced with agricultural waste materials and where succinate production would consume carbon dioxide.
Principal Investigators: Claire Vielle, Michigan State University
Program: CSP 2010