BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Key Genes for Biosynthesis of Hydrocarbon Biofuels Identified in Bacterium Micrococcus luteus
Published: July 29, 2010
Posted: October 01, 2010

JBEI researchers have elucidated the genes and a proposed biochemical pathway for the production of long-chain alkenes - key chemical components of petroleum-based gasoline and diesel fuels - in the bacterium Micrococcus luteus. Building on insights from microbial alkene research reported 4 decades ago, JBEI researchers hypothesized that a key mechanism for long-chain alkene biosynthesis would involve decarboxylation and condensation of fatty acids. By searching the genome of the alkene-producing bacterium M. luteus, researchers found three candidate genes with conserved sequences associated with condensing enzymes. Expression of these genes in E. coli resulted in long-chain alkene production, but additional research will be needed to reveal the specific biochemical role that each of the enzymes encoded by these genes plays in alkene synthesis. A wide range of bacteria has been found to contain genes similar to those that encode M. luteus alkene biosynthesis enzymes, so researchers will have an opportunity to learn more about these enzymes by exploring their diversity in nature.

Reference: This research was reported in Beller, H. R., E. B. Goh, and J. D. Keasling. 2010. "Genes Involved in Long-Chain Alkene BioBiosynthesis in Micrococcus luteus," Applied and Environmental Microbiology 76(4), 1212-23.

Contact: John Houghton, SC-23.2, (301) 903-8288
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts
  • Research Area: DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRC)

Division: SC-33.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)