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Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 1

Vertical Transmission, March 2008

The Melbourne meeting is drawing close. The local Melbourne organising committee, NSAC and the Rubbo Committee have put together an excellent programme and outstanding speakers. The opening ceremony will set the benchmark for the rest of the meeting. Professor Peter Doherty will speak on The role of leadership in changing times. Professor Doherty, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology together with Rolf Zinkernagel, discovered how T cells recognise their target antigens in combination with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) pro...

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Biobracing the future with smart microbes: towards bioindustrialisation

Bioindustry has been referred to as a cluster of companies producing engineered biological products, their supporting businesses and their classification on the basis of end markets such as therapeutics, diagnostics and bio-products for agriculture and bioremediation. Bioindustry also supports high technology applications for the creation of new energy sources and linkages to microelectronics and nanotechnology.

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Current developments in bioethanol production

The recent high price of oil (in excess of $US95 per barrel), security advantages of increased domestic production, environmental benefits of reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the potential for regional development, have all contributed recently to a greatly increased interest in bioethanol. In the longer term, second generation processes based on lignocellulosic materials from agricultural/forestry residues and/or specific high yield biomass energy crops offer greater potential for increased production as they avoid the food vs fuel c...

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Current status and trends of Japan’s bioindustry

In Japan, the sales of modern biotechnology products and services in 2006 were worth 1,847 billion Japanese Yen (US$ 16.7 billion). The market has shown steady growth since 1989 (Figure 1). Conventional biotechnology products such as beer and sake are not covered in Figure 1. If we cover products of both conventional and modern biotechnology, the market size in 2005 was Yen 7,692 billion (approximately equivalent to US$ 70 billion). Major modern biotechnology products sold in Japan in 2006 are shown in Table 1.

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Global prospects for the biofuels industry

The rapidly rising cost of oil and growing concern about global warming have dramatically increased the prospects for significant commercial biofuel production. Optimistically, biofuels could replace petroleum as the major transportation fuel within the next 2 decades. However, technical advances must be made to make bioethanol and biodiesel economically viable and sustainable replacements for petroleum. As a consequence, large investments are being made in research and development of bioethanol and biodiesel as alternative fuels by governments...

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Microbial lignocellulolytic enzymes: industrial applications and future perspectives

The demand for microbial industrial enzymes is ever increasing due to their use in a wide variety of processes. Lignocellulolytic enzymes have potential applications in a large number of fields, including the chemical, fuel, food, agricultural, paper, textile and cosmetic industrial sectors. Lignocellulosic biomass is an abundant renewable resource composed of cellulose (a polymer of glucose that represents the major fraction of lignocellulose), hemicellulose (also a sugar polymer) and lignin (a complex phenylpropane polymer). Lignocellulosic m...

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Using biology to add value to waste lignin streams

Arising from the need to find renewable sources of fuels and chemicals, a number of biological and chemical processes are in development or have been commercialised that enable the use of biomass as a starting material. Examples that have reached full commercial scale include production of 1,3?propanediol (a monomer for production of a plastic similar to the polyethylene used in plastic bottles) and lactic acid which is also a monomer used in the production of polylactic acid – a biodegradable plastic.

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Microbial diversity in petroleum reservoirs

Buried hydrocarbon deposits, such as liquid petroleum, represent an abundant source of reduced carbon for microbes. It is not surprising therefore that many organisms have adapted to an oily, anaerobic life deep underground, often at high temperatures and pressures, and that those organisms have had, and in some cases continue to have, an effect on the quality and recovery of the earth’s diminishing petroleum resources. There are three key microbial processes of interest to petroleum producers: reservoir souring, hydrocarbon degradation and mic...

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A green solution for ethanol production

The use of ethanol as an automotive fuel dates back to the early 20th century, with a memorable example being Henry Ford’s famous T model that was able to run on pure ethanol. With increased interest in renewable resources, the use of bioethanol as an automotive fuel on a global scale has been increasing; however, the long-term viability of ethanol as a renewable fuel is challenged by the availability of suitable feedstocks that can be used for the fermentation process.

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Microalgal applications in bioindustry

Microalgae are microscopic plants inhabiting the world’s oceans and other aquatic environments. They are critical for the health of the planet, being responsible for at least half of the global primary productivity. Like other photosynthetic (autotrophs) organisms, microalgae capture solar radiation and convert it to chemical energy as biomass, forming the basis of aquatic food webs, fixing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen as part of the process. Other microalgae (heterotrophs) can utilise organic compounds for growth. As single-celled packa...

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Geomicrobiology

The ever increasing demand for oil, coupled with the reduction in reserves, is increasing emphasis on finding new oil deposits and recovering more oil from known reserves since half to two thirds of all of the oil discovered to date is still in the ground and not recoverable by present technology. There are, however, microbiological techniques that could be of value in extending the time before alternatives to oil as the major energy source are required. Two will be discussed here – geomicrobiological prospecting and microbial enhanced oil reco...

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Environmentally-friendly biodegradable packaging products

The rise of industrialisation and widespread use of petrochemicals brought with it many useful products. One of these products was plastic, a highly polymerised hydrocarbon mainly used for its physical strength and effective microbial barrier properties. While oil is a productive and inexpensive way to produce chemicals, stocks are beginning to be depleted. Therefore, alternative ways to produce such products must be pursued. However, sustainability is becoming a necessary part of environmental management and important steps are now being made ...

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Towards a ‘tailor made’ biocatalysis

Microbial enzymes are used today in the most diverse industrial sectors. However, it is only in recent years that fundamental knowledge has been acquired that allows for a rational – rather than an empirical – development and application of microbial enzyme processes. These enzymes are primarily used as an end product or a processing aid in the agricultural sector, food and feed industry, the detergent sector, the textile industry and health care sector. In these sectors they replace or adjust the familiar (bio)chemical processes, or plant or a...

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Actinobacterial resources from termite guts for regional bioindustries

The State government of Queensland launched a well-funded 10 year strategy for bioindustry development in 1999 with the aim of making Queensland the Asia-Pacific hub of biotechnology. This strategic approach into diversifying the region’s economic base through the development of knowledge industries has rapidly transformed traditional methods to cutting edge technologies utilised for bioindustry. Microbially mediated technologies have thus gained importance for the production of biofuels and bioproducts, bioenvironmental management of natural r...

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Against the one hundredth locust: the commercial use of insect pathogens

Insect pathology has a long history dating back to the earliest studies in microbiology. A select few of the many known insect pathogens can be produced and used on an industrial scale as biopesticides and are championed for their low environmental impact. The commercial application of microbial insecticides has been limited competition with chemical insecticides. However, the advent of gene technology led to a multibillion dollar industry incorporating bacterial toxins into insect resistant transgenic crops, and in the development of expressio...

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Bacteriophage biocontrol: the technology matures

Use of bacteriophages (phages) as bacterial biocontrol agents was first envisioned by the phage pioneer Felix d’Herelle, and an increasing number of peer-reviewed studies point to the potential of phages to control spoilage and pathogenic bacteria in food. Several such phage-based biocontrol products have recently received regulatory approval and some have been commercialised. Obstacles nevertheless remain before widespread implementation can be achieved. These include consumer acceptance of the addition of ‘viruses’ to food as well as various ...

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Biotechnology in the Smart State

Recognising the enormous potential biotechnology offers, this emerging industry is at the heart of the Queensland government’s Smart State Strategy.

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ASM Affairs, March 2008

ASM Education Special Interest Group: Would you like fries with that?; ASM Laboratory Leadership and Management Special Interest Group: Infantry minor tactics for scientific staff

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