Engineered bacteria – to make nanocellulose in commercial amounts?

ACS Symposium with very interesting research results from the University of Texas

As was reported this week out of an American Chemical Society symposium:

“Most cellulose consists of wood fibers and cell wall remains. Very few living organisms can actually synthesize and secrete cellulose in its native nanostructure form of microfibrils. At this level, nanometer-scale fibrils are very hydrophilic and look like jelly. A nanometer is one-millionth the thickness of a U.S. dime. Nevertheless, cellulose shares the unique properties of other nanometer-sized materials – properties much different from large quantities of the same material. Nanocellulose-based materials have great strength, light weight and other advantages has fostered interest in using it in everything from lightweight armor and ballistic glass to wound dressings and scaffolds for growing replacement organs for transplantation.”

Yes, it’s the nanometer-sized version of cellulose, the most abundant organic polymer on Earth. It was Louis Pasteur who first discovered that acetobacters – that is, bacteria responsible for making vinegar (that you might find, for example, making your wine go sour or turning your milk into yogurt) were capable of making “a sort of moist skin, swollen, gelatinous and slippery”.

That’s bacterial nanocellulose – and there’s a cottage industry involved in its manufacture.

… Full text:

Tags: blue-green algae, photosynthetic bacteria, cyanobacteria, Acetobacter xylinum (A. xylinum), nutrients


BiofuelsDigest, 2013-04-09.


American Chemical Society (ACS)
University of Texas