Improving Efficiency of Cellulosic Fermentation via Genetic Engineering to Create “Smart Plants” for Biofuel Production
Biomass-based fuel is a near-term alternative to petroleum for powering the global economy in an ecologically sustainable fashion while minimizing the carbon footprint by decreasing net greenhouse gas emission. To affect this major shift in energy use and fuel source in the near future, dramatic improvement in the efficiency of converting cellulose into biofuels will be a key step. Optimization of downstream fermentation and separation processes through microbial engineering and industrial technologies integration are clearly important steps that need to be taken. In addition, altering feedstock properties to facilitate cellulose breakdown to energy-rich sugars will also play an important role in minimizing the environmental and financial costs for biofuel production. With the rapid advances in genomics and molecular techniques in the past decade, the stage is set for the design and engineering of candidate feedstocks to endow them with specific traits or transgenes in order to facilitate their disassembly. In this chapter, we will concisely review and discuss the considerations and present status on the use of genetic engineering as an approach to modify plants for optimal biofuel production.
KeywordsTransgenic Plant Rice Straw Corn Stover Biofuel Production Carbon Footprint
The work on biofuel research in the Lam lab is supported in part by the Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment, the Rutgers Energy Institute and the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
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