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Good to the Last Drop

Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute have developed a biological mechanism to keep microbes from poisoning themselves after they produce biofuels, says ClimateWire's Umair Irfan. This dynamic sensor-regulator system "acts as a shock absorber, slowing down chemical production in a cell before it reaches toxic levels and scaling it back up when the coast is clear," Irfan says. "Organisms using a DSRS survive longer and produce more fuel." The researchers used a version of E. coli engineered to produce diesel fuel. The diesel itself is not dangerous to the microbes, but precursors like fatty acids and ethanol can be lethal in high concentrations. The DSRS responds to high concentrations of these molecules and trigger enzymes that convert them into diesel before they become toxic, Irfan says. "Bacteria engineered with a DSRS produced up to three times more fuel than those without," he adds. Further, these results could be used in other microbial pathways, to make drugs as well as fuels.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.