Dalhousie iGEM 2016
A “spike” in biofuel production: mining the porcupine microbiome to engineer a softwood feedstock platform:
Dwindling fuel resources and rising environmental concerns have catalyzed the development of biofuel production in microorganisms. In Nova Scotia, softwood waste from the lumber industry is an untapped source for low-cost biofuel feedstock; however, this waste cannot be utilized by traditional biofuel processes due to toxic compounds such as turpentines and unavailable carbon compounds such as cellulose. The porcupine microbiome provides a unique solution as it is capable of digesting bark and toxic products. Working with Schubenacadie Wildlife Park, we aim to not only identify cellulose and/or turpentine-degrading bacteria in the porcupine microbiome, but to also characterize microbial communities found within the Park’s mammal population. To achieve these goals, we are using fecal samples to construct a DNA library of the porcupine and to analyze each mammal’s microbial rRNA. Future experiments include introducing identified cellulose and/or turpentine-degrading pathways into E. coli to produce an economically viable and sustainable biofuel-generating organism.
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