Genus Clostridium: Towards Sustainable Production of Biofuels

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Sperker / Institution: Nigel P. Minton / University of Nottingham (Reino Unido)

Abstract: The genus Clostridium is one of the largest amongst prokaryotes. An extremely diverse assemblage of species, they are composed of Gram-positive, anaerobic, endospore-forming, rod-shaped bacteria. The antics of a few (for example, Clostridium difficile, Clostridium botulinum and Clostridium tetani) have given the genus a bad name. The vast majority of the species, however, are entirely benign, and exhibit extreme biocatalytic diversity. Indeed, the propensity of many of the solventogenic species to produce organic solvents, and in particular the alcohols ethanol and butanol is of great interest to the industrial biotechnologist. Prominent amongst the species being investigated are those clostridia able to produce the superior biofuel butanol, such as Clostridium acetobutylicum and Clostridium beijerinckii, as well as cellulosic species able to produce ethanol from renewable biomass, typified by Clostridium thermocellum and Clostridium phytofermentans. More recently, there has been an upsurge in activity directed at exploiting acetogenic species, such as Clostridium ljungdahlii and Clostridium autoethanogenum. They grow on a spectrum of waste gases from industry (eg., steel manufacturing, oil refining, coal and natural gas) as well as “synthesis gas” (CO & H2) produced from renewable and sustainable resources, such as biomass and domestic/ agricultural wastes. This enables low carbon fuels and chemicals to be produced in any industrialized geography without consumption of valuable food or land resources.

PS: The complete title of the presentation is “The Genus Clostridium: Towards Sustainable Production of Chemical Commodities and Biofuels through Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic Biology Approach”