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Turning bacteria into butanol biofuel factories

Univ. of California, Berkeley, chemists have engineered bacteria to churn out a gasoline-like biofuel at about 10 times the rate of competing microbes, a breakthrough that could soon provide an affordable and “green” transportation fuel.

The advance is reported in Nature Chemical Biology by Michelle C. Y. Chang, assistant professor of chemistry at UC Berkeley, graduate student Brooks B. Bond-Watts, and recent UC Berkeley graduate Robert J. Bellerose.

Various species of the Clostridium bacteria naturally produce a chemical called n-butanol (normal butanol) that has been proposed as a substitute for diesel oil and gasoline.

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