Maker of microbe-inspired jet fuels gets more funding.

Get to work, microbes.

Amyris Biotechnologies, which is working on make jet fuels, gasoline and medicines through biologically inspired processes, has raised part of a $70 million funding round that it hopes to complete by the end of the year.

The company also said that it will try to come out with its bio-diesel, bio-gasoline and bio-jet fuels as early as 2010.

Amyris specializes in synthetic biology. It studies metabolic processes in bacteria and other microorganisms and then tries to replicate those processes artificially in labs. One of its first projects was developing a synthetic form of artemisinin, a medicine for malaria that grown naturally in mangrove swamps in China. Growing it artificially will, potentially, expand the supply to cover far more patients.

The company has exploited similar processes to turn sugars and other organic materials into fuel. Amyris grew out of research conducted by UC Berkeley's Jay Keasling.

Competitors include Synthetic Genomics (which includes oil giant BP as an investor), Dyadic, LiveFuels, Solazyme, LS9 and Cambrios Technologies. Some of these companies employ synthetic biology and some use the actual, live microbes to do their dirty work.

Duff Ackerman & Goodrich Ventures (DAG Ventures) led the current round of financing and was joined by existing investors such as Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

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    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.

     

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