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Groundbreaking collaborative research published in Nature Chemical Biology

Feb. 8, 2016 - CEMS Assistant Professor Kechun Zhang, along with other University of Minnesota students and researchers including Yi-Shu Tai, Mingyong Xiong, Pooja Jambunathan, Jingyu Wang, Jilong Wang, and Cole Stapleton, have engineered a new synthetic biopathway that can more efficiently and cost-effectively turn agricultural waste, like corn stover and orange peels, into a variety of useful products ranging from spandex to chicken feed. The published research, "Engineering nonphosphorylative metabolism to generate lignocellulose-derived products," in the journal Nature Chemical Biology examined the gene sequences from bacteria and fungi that turn the biomass into tricarboxylic acid (TCA) intermediates. The researchers call this new metabolism “nonphosphorylative metabolism,” which enables the production of useful products from TCA cycle with less than five steps, compared to previous 10 steps. Less steps in the process resulted in a 70 percent higher yield in production and a process that is overall better for the environment. This study is one of only a few examples of artificial metabolic pathways constructed thus far.

Related Link: https://cse.umn.edu/news-release/researchers-create-synthetic-biopathway-to-turn-agriculture-waste-into-green-products/

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