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An Even Keel

By adding a sensor to Escherichia coli, University of California, Berkeley's Jay Keasling and his colleagues improved the ability of the bacteria to make biofuel. As Technology Review notes, when biofuel precursors — fatty acids and ethanol — are out of proportion in the bacteria, production is not very efficient. The sensor reacts to fatty acid levels in the bacteria to balance them out. "This 'self-awareness' increased the amount of biodiesel made by the bacteria to 28 percent of theoretical maximum, a threefold increase over the previously reported strain," Tech Review adds.

As the researchers say in Nature Biotechnology, "it should one day be possible to dynamically regulate any metabolic pathway … to make microbial production of commodity chemicals and fuels economically viable."

The Scan

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.