In Washington, DC, the American Institute of Physics reported that CellulosomePlus, an international research consortium that includes researchers from Spain, Poland and Ireland, developed a way to re-engineer the bacterial enzyme complexes, called cellulosomes, which serve as catalysts in the degradation process. Helping bacteria become more efficient in this process could result in more affordable biofuels for our gas tanks and sustainable products such as bioplastics.
The researchers focused on the Clostridium thermocellum (C. thermocellum) bacterium. Capable of directly converting cellulose into ethanol, especially at elevated temperatures, the bacterium has garnered much interest as an optimal biofuel catalyst. The proposed method is universal, can be applied to multiple mutations, and is currently used to explain properties of bacteria that live in extreme environments.