Tag Archives: sugar

Sugar found to boost lethal bacteria

Image credit: Vikrant Minhas

Adelaide researchers find how a bacteria digests a sugar can be key to new treatments

Vikrant Minhas, University of Adelaide

The severity of a common and often lethal type of bacteria depends on its ability to process a type of sugar, research from the University of Adelaide reveals.

Streptococcus pneumoniae causes diseases of the lungs, blood, ear and brain, killing an estimated one million people every year. Moreover S. pneumoniae causes otitis media (infection of the middle ear), which devastates Aboriginal populations. It also rapidly develops resistance to antibiotics, making it challenging to treat.

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Yeast to make jet fuels

Yeast to make jet fuels
Dr Claudia Vickers is leading a team looking at modifying baker’s yeast to make aviation fuel. Credit: AIBN.

Baker’s yeast could soon be turning sugar cane into jet fuel. Dr Claudia Vickers from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) at the University of Queensland leads a team studying strains which already produce ethanol, industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

The researchers want to use the yeast strains S. cerevisiae to make isoprenoids, chemicals traditionally used to make pharmaceuticals and food additives, but which can also serve as fuel.

The idea is to give the yeast new functions, so they can consume sucrose from cane sugar and produce isoprenoid products, which can be used to replace or supplement traditional jet fuel, without modifying existing aircraft engines or infrastructure.

Claudia’s lab was originally looking at the gut bacteria E. coli, which could also be used to produce isoprenoids, but the yeast is now looking more promising.

Other research groups at The University of Queensland and James Cook University are looking to develop aviation fuel from algae and the oilseed tree Pongamia, both of which can be grown without competing with traditional food crops for land or water.

The University’s sustainable aviation fuel initiative has attracted several backers including Boeing, Virgin Australia, Mackay Sugar, Brisbane-based IOR Energy, and the US-based green energy company Amyris. It is funded by the Queensland State Government.

Photo: Dr Claudia Vickers is leading a team looking at modifying baker’s yeast to make aviation fuel.
Credit: AIBN

Australian Institute for Bioengineering & Nanotechnology, UQ, Claudia Vickers, Tel: +61 7 334 63158, c.vickers@uq.edu.au, www.aibn.uq.edu.au