he Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) announced on September 24 they have for the first time synthesized starch from carbon dioxide.
Starch is naturally derived from crops due to photosynthesis. The CAS team led by researcher Ma Yanhe of the Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology under CAS designed an 11-step artificial process for fixing carbon dioxide and synthesizing starch with the same molecular structure as natural starch.
According to CAS, the artificial process is 8.5 times efficient as the natural process. A one-cubic-meter bioreactor can theoretically produce as much starch as 0.3 hectares of corn.
The new technique is still in the laboratory phase and it will be a long time before it can be put into use. But the achievement, which has been published in Science, is a big breakthrough in the emerging synthetic biology industry and will have important future applications.