University of Colorado researchers are leading a team that has been awarded a five-year, $9.2 million grant to pursue the development of biofuels such as gasoline from E. coli.

The research team is led by Ryan Gill, a fellow at CU's Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, and includes Rob Knight, a CU associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Other members of the team include scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Researchers will be working with a non-pathogenic strain of E. coli. The microbe's 4,000-plus genes, they believe, may include a small subset which can be manipulated in such a way as to change the bacteria's behavior.

The scientists hope to engineer the production of ethylene and isobutanol in the modified E. coli, according to a news release. Those compounds are widely used commodities that can be converted into gasoline, as well as other chemicals.