Scientific outlook

In our project, we were able to show that our engineered E. coli strains are able to grow in the presence of high methanol concentrations and can also accumulate glycogen. The assimilation of methanol into the metabolism can possibly be improved by building the monocistronic diversity library. With this strategy, different combinations of promoters for each gene can be tested. This way the interplay of protein expression and metabolic activity can be optimized.

Our results indicate that HPLC might be very useful in the optimization of glycogen analytics as soon as a better purification method is developed.

As the genetic tools get more advanced, other organisms can be considered. Next to synthetic chassis organisms, this might also include native methylotrophs such as B. methanolicus. But before glycogen accumulation can be engineered in these organisms, our glgP knockout strain and the methanol assimilation BioBricks will be valuable tools to further understand the regulation of these pathways.

With our small-scale bioreactor technology, further metabolic engineering research towards a methanol-based bioeconomy will be accelerated.

Possible future in 50 years

The energy price kept dropping and renewable energy became more efficient and available. Most of the fuels are sustainably produced by technical conversion to hydrocarbons, which are available in huge amounts. The biotechnology and starch based industry is based on a variety of substrates, mainly wastes and glycogen produced from renewable methanol. The arable land that was previously used to grow energy crops is now renatured or used for food crops. The renaturing of area that was a former part of the bioeconomy, now binds a large amount of CO2 from the atmosphere which was essential to begin reversing global warming.

With the left over arable land and improved agriculture, we can guarantee food security without an extensive use of fertilizers. The decreased use of fertilizers reduced the pollution of rivers and oceans which led to a more stable environment.

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A desirable future