Some microbes are skilled at turning plants into biofuels and useful chemicals. Persuade them to do this efficiently enough, and you have the foundation of a bioenergy refinery that generates fuels and chemicals from renewable sources rather than fossil fuels.
Researchers can improve microbes’ productivity through precise genetic modification with CRISPR/Cas9, the gene editing tool that recently earned its inventors a Nobel prize. Now, Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) scientists have created an easy-to-use web tool called “CRISpy-pop” to streamline the process. CRISpy-pop allows users to refer to the genomic data of an entire population of biofuel-producing microbes to determine the best places to splice its DNA.