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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