Student Research

Isolation and Comparative Genomic Analysis of Clostridium Strains Potentially Capable of Utilizing the ABE Fermentation for Production of Biofuel

Our continued dependence on crude oil and its products has led to continuous increase in gas price, and most importantly severe damage to the environment. Due to these implications, the search for renewable energy source has never been more imperative. An ideal alternative to this dependence are biofuels whose emissions and cost are lesser than fossil fuel. According to previous studies, some members of the class clostridia can utilize Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol (ABE) fermentation pathway for biofuel production, with Butanol being a direct replacement of gasoline. The goals of this project are to biochemically and genomically compare Clostridium strains utilizing the ABE pathway. To carry out our objectives, animal fecal samples were collected, anaerobically enriched, and cultured on a selective media. After culturing, Clostridium strains were isolated based on morphology and biochemical properties. Species identification is determined by 16S rRNA sequencing.The ABE pathway genes are amplified by PCR. Solvent analysis are done by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). Finally, comparative analysis are done on strains utilizing the ABE pathway to check for genomic similarities and differences that might play an important role in their ability to produce biofuel. Our study has identified several butanol producing clostridia, which will be used to further elucidate the relationship between clostridia strains capable of producing biofuels, and may lead to the development of more efficient ways to use microbes for the production of biofuels, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the environment.