a man with a microbe on mission
So what makes Berry so hot? He’s the brains behind LS9, the California-based company working on "renewable petroleum."
Berry’s goal was nothing less than "to develop a novel and far-reaching solution to the energy problem." In colÂlaboration with genomics researcher George Church of Harvard MediÂcal School and plant biologist Chris Somerville of Stanford University, Berry and his Flagship colleagues set out to do something that had never been attempted commercially: using the tools of synthetic biology to make microÃ¶rganisms that produce something like petroleum. Berry assumed responsibility for proving that the infant company, dubbed LS9, could produce a biofuel that was renewable, better than corn-derived ethanol, and cost-Âcompetitive with Âfossil-based fuels.
I understand that Chris Somerville — a leading figure in the plant biology field — is also at work on plants that are genetically engineered to produce biodegradable plastics. Now if they could just integrate that idea with these petroleum-producing microbes, we’d really have something to celebrate.