Daily Archives: February 13, 2012

Enzymes in biofuels

Embrapa AgroenergyEnzymes produced by microorganisms of the oil palm (Dende) may be an alternative for the production of biofuels

By Daniela Collares

The plants are generally considered a favorable environment for the pursuit of new microbial species that may present great biotechnological potential. In order to discover the biotechnological potential of microbiota associated with oil palm, researches from Embrapa Agroenergy (Brasilia, Brazil) selected microorganisms for energy ends. With the selection, new organisms and their enzymes that will be generated could be one more option for ethanol production and biodiesel.
The research, begun earlier in the year, is carried out by the researchers, Leah Fávaro Salum and Thais, and by laboratory analysts Carolina Poletto and Thais Mendes. So far, have already been made the screening and the isolation of hundreds microorganisms. The study for the production of interest enzymes is underway. The next steps will be the characterization of microorganisms and applying the enzyme isolated in a laboratory scale.
The work – The proposal is to find out enzymes that can be utilized in the biofuels production. The initial idea was select only microorganism producer of lipases that are generally found on materials with large quantities of oil, as is the case of oil palm fruits. Lipases can replace the chemical catalysts that are used the majority of industries for biodiesel production. “Although not yet an economically viable option is environmentally friendly because it does not generate toxic waste,” says the researcher Thais Salum.
Salum emphasizes that due to the large quantity of microorganisms, the team is already selecting microorganisms that produce other enzymes such as amylases, cellulases, ligninases, among others which could be used in manufacturing ethanol of 1st and 2nd generation, one of the platforms from Embrapa Agroenergy researches.
The research Leah Favaro explains that to carry out the experiment, samples were collected from fruits, leaves and soil, from several palms experiments at Embrapa Cerrados, in Planaltina, Brazil. “Every plant, as well as the soil has naturally occurring microorganisms, because they are found in practically all environments,” he stresses.
In laboratories, the microorganisms were cultivated in petri dishes containing culture medium, where one grew large variety of filamentous fungi, yeasts and bacteria. So far have already been isolated more than 1000 micro-organisms. The microorganisms isolated will be included into the collection of microorganisms of Biochemical Processes Laboratory at Embrapa Agroenergy.

Source: Embrapa Agroenergy
Picture Credit: Robson Cipriano
Translated by Gilberto Silber Schmidt
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Embrapa Environment launches project about risks assessment and regulation of agri-nanotechnology

By Cristina Tordin
Embrapa Environment – Nanotechnology offers the prospect of great advances that will allow improving the quality of life and preserving the environment. There are so many applications. Generally have been employed for energy saving, environmental recovery, optimizing utilization of raw materials as well as related to human health applications, such as controlled drug release in the body and also in the food with the development of film nano and micro structured edible coatings for fruits and vegetables fresh or in nature.
Brazil has been highlighted in the research and development projects in this sector. However, so far, few approaches have been made in other aspects such as the legal, for example. Despite the need to formulation of laws for regulation nanotechnologies had been appointed by the scientific community, there is still no agreement on which model should be followed.
“If it will go be developed as based on the international regulations, it runs a risk of not having the Brazilian reality of representativeness in the evaluations,” the researcher says Katia Regina Evaristo de Jesus from Embrapa Environment, leader of the approved project about risk assessment and regulation of agri-nanotechnology and subsidies for its regulation in Brazil.
“So Kathy explains, aligned to Embrapa’s effort to advance in the researches and development in this area so new and challenging, Embrapa Environment approved the project, which includes a set of interconnected actions.”
The aim is to define strategies that allow contribute to support the regulations of the subject in this country in order to the development of a methodology for risk assessment of nanotechnologies applied to agriculture and a rational technology transfer.
According to the researcher, “this agenda seek the reduction of the time lapse between the knowledge production, technology, development of criteria for the evaluation of its safety for the environment and society and its effective use by the public and productive sectors, contributing significantly towards the national sustainable development in nanotechnology”.

Source: Embrapa Environment, January 26th, 2012
Click here to read the complete version of this article in Portuguese
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Translated by Gilberto Silber Schmidt
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