Scientists Discovered Flavin-Based Electron Bifurcation Can Produce Microbial Energy

By Rik Sarkar | May 11, 2017 02:58 AM EDT

Energy is the most important factor for all living organism to survive. From microbes to humans, all organisms have to extract energy from their surroundings. However, for cellular metabolism, there were two methods of generating and conserve the energy have been discovered yet. Now, scientists have found the third method of microbial energy production that is known as flavin-based electron bifurcation(FBEB).

A research team from the Biological Electron Transfer and Catalysis (BETCy) Energy Frontier Research Center and U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have analyzed the mechanism of flavin-based electron bifurcation. In the journal of Nature Chemical Biology, researchers described that the newly discovered method is actually an ancient form of energy generation and conservation.

During the first stage of the experiment, researchers examined unknown features of catalytic mechanism, gaining critical, comprehensive insights about the way in which flavin-based electron bifurcation works. Surprisingly, a unique flavin molecule can generate two levels of energy from a single precursor compound. According to ScienceDaily, the first level is for easy chemical reaction and the another one is to produce high energy compound.

Flavin plays the main key role in energy conserving chemistry and it enables the enzyme to serve more energy in an organism. Lead researcher Cara Lubner from NREL said,“The results should enable new strategies for engineering biological systems for more efficient production of fuels and chemicals and for developing catalytic processes that optimize conversion of electrochemical reactions”. she also explained that biochemistry of flavin-based electron bifurcation will help them to produce higher levels of biofuels.

NREL scientist David Mulder Who was also part of this study explained in the paper named, “Mechanistic insights into energy conservation by flavin-based electron bifurcation” that better understanding of bifurcation will allow them to create new catalysts to increase efficiency in chemistry. Scientists are also planning to combine these three methods to produce the most efficient energy source and make better products such as chemicals, fuels, or hydrogen gas.

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