Dangerous bacteria — is there anything it can’t do? First we learned that scientists at Birmingham University are using E.Coli to clean up nuclear waste, and now comes word that MIT researchers have figured out a way to make biofuels from a bacteria that is related to the strain that produces tuberculosis.
The groundbreaking research is being conducted around oil-dwelling Rhodococcus bacteria, which are ideal for biofuel production because they eat both sugars and toxic compounds. The bacteria also produce lipids that can be transformed into biodiesel. Thus far, MIT scientists have figured out how to generate Rhodococcus strains that eat glucose, xylose, and glycerol (a waste product from biodiesel production).
The next step: continuing to increase yields with more research over the next few years. Keep an eye on MIT for news of even more strains of bacteria engineered to save the planet — a different team of researchers at the school are working on petroleum-replacing bacteria that absorb CO2 and carbon monoxide.