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Development of a Sustainable Route to the Important Platform Chemical 3-Hydroxypropanoic Acid Using Synthetic Biology and a Geobacillus Chassis (GEO-HPA)
Start date: 01 Jan 2015, End date: 31 Dec 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"The environmental damage caused by the indiscriminate use of fossil fuels for chemical manufacture threatens the very future of our planet. Attention must now focus on biological routes that convert lignocellulosic biomass (LCB) into the required platform chemicals. 3-hydroxypropanoic acid (3-HP) has been ranked as the third most important chemical that can be derived from LCB by the US Department of Energy. However no commercial biological process is presently available. Current attempts are thwarted by the high cost of feedstock, low titers and yield and 3-HP toxicity.The goal of GEO-HPA is the development of a bioprocess for 3-HP production from LCB using the bacterium Geobacillus (the process organism of the UK biofuel company TMO Renewables Ltd). Geobacillus is capable of growth at high temperatures (up to 70 C), can rapidly metabolize a wide range of substrates (including pentose sugars and insoluble substrates) typically found in LCB hydrolysates and is thus capable of the simultaneous saccharification and fermentation of this feedstock. The pathways necessary production will be introduced into the Geobacillus genome using Synthetic Biology approaches, coupled with the deliberate inactivation of genes encoding competing pathways. Culture conditions, process variables and reactor operation mode will be optimized. The in situ removal of 3-HP and process scale-up will lead to improved 3-HP titers, yield and productivity.The project will capitalize on the extensive expertise of Dr Kumar and the unique range of ‘state-of-the-art’ tools, resources and partners (TMO Renewables Ltd) available at the host institution. It will lead to complementary exchange of capabilities and knowledge between Europe and India, and the establishment of a long lasting collaboration. The outcome will be an economic and sustainable commercial route to 3-HP that will enhance EU competitiveness in the development of bio-based production of chemicals from renewable sources."
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