California scientists identify a new approach to recycle greenhouse gas
Ayala School of Biological Sciences researchers have discovered a bacterium that could reduce CO2 and release CO as a product, which could be explored further for new ways of recycling atmospheric CO2 into biofuels.
Led by Yilin Hu, UCI assistant professor of molecular biology & biochemistry at the Ayala School of Biological Sciences, the researchers found that they could successfully express the reductase component of the nitrogenase enzyme alone in the bacterium Azotobacter vinelandii and directly use this bacterium to convert CO2 to CO.
The intracellular environment of the bacterium was shown to favor the conversion of CO2 in a way that would be more applicable to the future development of strategies for large-scale production of CO. The findings were surprising to the group, as nitrogenase was only previously believed to convert nitrogen (N2) to ammonia (NH3) within the bacterium under similar conditions. The full study can be found online in Nature Chemical Biology.
Hu and her colleagues were excited to discover that the bacterium could reduce CO2 and release CO as a product, which makes it an attractive whole-cell system that could be explored further for new ways of recycling atmospheric CO2 into biofuels and other commercial chemical products.