NCESR project: engineered microbe that excels at ‘breathing rubber’


The single-celled microorganisms known as methanogens are, no surprise, known for emitting methane: in the guts of humans and other animals, in hydrothermal vents that gash the ocean floor — almost anywhere, really, that oxygen is not.

But biochemist Nicole Buan and colleagues at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln have now genetically engineered a species of methanogen that can also yield sizable amounts of isoprene, the primary chemical component of synthetic rubber. Promisingly, that isoprene production substantially outpaces the yields of other microorganisms engineered for the same purpose.  Engineered microbe excels at ‘breathing rubber’