Protein-based biorefining: metabolic engineering for production of chemicals and fuel with regeneration of nitrogen fertilizers.

Research paper by David G DG Wernick, James C JC Liao

Indexed on: 09 Jan '13Published on: 09 Jan '13Published in: Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


Threats to stable oil supplies and concerns over environmental emissions have pushed for renewable biofuel developments to minimize dependence on fossil resources. Recent biofuel progress has moved towards fossil resource-independent carbon cycles, but environmental issues regarding use of nitrogen fertilizers have not been addressed on a global scale. The recently demonstrated conversion of waste protein biomass into advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals, while recycling nitrogen fertilizers, offers a glimpse of the efforts needed to balance the nitrogen cycle at scale. In general, the catabolism of protein into biofuels is challenging because of physiological regulation and thermodynamic limitations. This conversion became possible with metabolic engineering around ammonia assimilation, intracellular nitrogen flux, and quorum sensing. This review highlights the metabolic engineering solutions in transforming those cellular processes into driving forces for the high yield of chemical products from protein.