Assistant Professor, Michigan State University, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and MSU-DOE Plant Laboratory. Ducat received his doctoral degree from John Hopkins University and did his postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School.
The emerging “Green Economy” holds the promise of harnessing photosynthetic organisms for sustainable production of commodity goods (e.g., biofuels and plastics) from solar energy and atmospheric CO2. However, current methods involve a conversion of plant-based carbohydrates, which raises additional environmental concerns and ethical questions of land-use. Our research team has been developing photosynthetic bacteria (cyanobacteria) as an alternative crop species for the production of carbohydrates. We explore the use of cyanobacteria to engineer designer bacterial consortia that can be used to flexibly convert light into a variety of valuable chemicals, including the bioplastic, polyhydroxybutyrate. The potential advantages, and current progress, of using microbial consortia to compartmentalize metabolic reactions for biotechnology applications will be discussed.
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