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Cheese-Making Bacterium Studied For Possible Biofuel Producing Capabilities

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A bacterium that usually transforms milk into cheese is now being hunted by researchers who want to “convince” it that its natural vocation can also help to produce biofuels. This story is about Lactococcus lactis.

Two Concordia University researchers, namely professor Vincent Martin and his PhD student Andrew Wieczorek, have just published their study which demonstrates how structural or scaffolding proteins on the surface of the bacteria can lead to the digestion of plant material into biodiesel.

“This is the first study to show how the scaffolding proteins, can be secreted and localized to the cell surface of Lactococcus,” says Dr. Martin, who is also Canada Research Chair in Microbial Genomics and Engineering.

“Exporting these proteins and localizing them to the outside of the cell is a huge milestone. This can enhance the efficiency of any bioprocesses or the breakdown of organic materials.”

The study, published in the journal Microbial Cell Factories, also unveils how the skeletal proteins of the lactic bacterium bond with multiple compounds. Their next aim is to work out larger and more complex scaffolds that could encourage other bio-processes, leading to a more efficient biofuel production.

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