Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a gram negative bacteria which is commonly found in lower intestine and most E. Coli strains are harmless however some strains can cause food poisoning in humans. The organism is a model organism for gram negative bacteria and is used in conducting numerous researches in last 60 years.
Korean Scientists working at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has turned the bacteria to produce gasoline (high premium oil) by genetic modifications to E. Coli. A quick patent search done by Signicent suggests that there can be over 50 relevant patents (reduced by main family members) focusing on E.Coli for the production of biofuels. Some of these patents are from IDEN BIOTECHNOLOGY (WO2013024196A1), BIO ARCHITECTURE LAB (US8318473B2), Gyeongsang National University Industry-Academic Cooperation Foundation, Korea (KR101223816B1) and CHANGHAE ETHANOL CO., LTD. with GS CALTEX CORPORATION (KR20120135157A).
The Korean group led by Prof. Lee Sang-yup claims that the significance of this breakthrough lies in the fact that you do not have to go through process to crack the oil created by engineered E.Coli and to produce gasoline and they have succeeded in converting glucose or waste biomass directly into gasoline as Mr. Lee told to Wall Street Journal.
The day when a common man can use cars which are bacteria powered are still a distant dream since the initial research at lab scale level produced 580 milligrams of gasoline from 1 liter of glucose culture.
News: Wall Street Journal
Patent searches: Signicent LLP. Contact us for more on this subject.