In search of the best biofuel-producing microbes, scientists may need to make millions of variants via genetic modifications. But only a handful of these variants are likely to produce large amounts of biofuel. To identify the most promising strains, scientists currently have to crack open the cells and test for the desired molecules one microbe at a time, an expensive and extremely labor-intensive process.
In a paper published January 12, 2019, in ACS Synthetic Biology, the team describes a new biosensor capable of reporting a microbe’s biofuel production capacity to scientists from within the cell. It’s a faster, cheaper, and less disruptive means of identifying the most promising biofuel-producing microbes.