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BacterioFiles Special Edition - ASM2013 General Meeting Day 2

Here's my summary of the second day of ASM2013, an exciting day full of science.

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Session 1: Pumping at the Microbial Well
Section 1: Advanced Plant to Advanced Fuel
Presented by Jay D. Keasling,
In order to produce long-chain carbon compounds for diesel and jet fuels, it is possible to engineer bacteria like E. coli to produce them the way they produce long fatty acids for their membranes, but in a better form for extraction. Also, plants produce many terpene compounds for defense, such as bisabolene, that can also be good for fuel, and bacteria can be engineered to produce these too, but it can be tricky due to these compounds' toxicity.
Paper on good efflux pumps for biofuel production: Dunlop et al, 2011, Mol. Sys. Biol. 7:487 doi: 10.1038/msb.2011.21

Section 2: Is There a Path to Cellulosic Biofuels?
Presented by Thomas W. Jeffries
His main point was that the use of fossil fuels should be a transitional state between the pre-industrial era and a sustainable system of renewable energy. Fossil fuels should be an investment in the future, not something we should build our whole infrastructure around. They are going to run out someday, after all.

Poster: 280 - Comparisons of CRISPR Content Between Saliva and Skin: Viral Exposures May Not Be Body Site Specific
R. Robles-Sikisaka, M. Naidu, M. Ly, J. Saizman, S.R. Abeles, T. Boehm, D.T. Pride

Session 2: Uncovering the Function of Unknown Proteins
Section 1: Evolution and the Proteome: Insights into Protein Function from Deeply Conserved Gene Modules
Presented by Edward Marcotte
How should one go about figuring out the function of unknown proteins? Possibly by comparing homologs in other, even distantly related organisms. Even homologous genes in yeast and humans can have similar functions. And of the ~500 essential proteins in yeast that have human homologues, 60% of them can be replaced with the human version and the yeast will still be viable.

Section 2: Small Proteins Can No Longer Be Ignored
Presented by Gisela Storz
Her group has discovered some bacterial proteins smaller than 50 amino acids long, that seem to be related to metal metabolism.

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