Pamela Silver, a Harvard scientist, is working on deriving biofuel from the deep-ocean extremophiles bacteria. U.S. Department of Energy is funding Pamela Silver’s team to find out bacteria, other than the known e-coli, yeast, or even photosynthetic bacteria, which can be used for producing biofuel. Extremophiles bacteria are living deep in the ocean, in vents, or in soil. Some of these bacteria are able to move electrons in and out of them. Scientists are trying to find out whether these electrons can provide reducing power or energy coupled with the fixation of CO2, or carbon, to produce a biofuel. According to Pamela Silver, a multilevel research of extremophiles bacteria is required to confirm whether bacteria are able to take in electricity or electrons.
Then carbon will be necessary, because that is a mandatory element for producing the fuel. And finally, bacteria should be engineered so they will produce the fuel. The produced fuel should be transportation compatible, otherwise it would not be used in the production because of its being corrosive to plastic or to things that are in cars already. Different extremophiles bacteria are used in the experiments: one group of scientists is working with Shewanella, others are using Ralstonia or Geobacter. But either bacterium is chosen for experiments, the capability of its moving electrons is considered as a major. In this respect, Shewanella is a leader for taking electrons and actually pumping them out of the cell. For engineering purposes, the team of Pamela Silver is introducing genes or pieces of DNA — genes that provide certain functions for the cell. To program the bacteria perform the required operations, the necessary genes will be inserted into the cell. If the experiment with extremophiles bacteria will succeed we could make sure that one more source of biofuel will become available.