Our Mission

Removing recalcitrance as an economic barrier for sustainable cellulosic biofuels

Biomass recalcitrance is the primary barrier to efficiently and economically accessing fermentable sugars for advanced biofuels that will directly displace petroleum. Convinced that biotechnological approaches hold the most promise for achieving these breakthroughs, the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) is developing plants that are easier to deconstruct and microbes that more effectively convert lignocellulose into simple sugars.

Biomass Formation and Modification

BESC research involves working with two potential bioenergy crops (switchgrass and Populus) to develop varieties that are easier to break down into fermentable sugars and to understand how plant cell walls are formed and can be modified to improve sugar release.


Biomass Deconstruction and Conversion

BESC research in biomass deconstruction and conversion targets consolidated bioprocessing (a single-step process) by studying model organisms and thermophilic anaerobes to understand novel strategies and enzyme complexes for biomass deconstruction.


Enabling Technologies

BESC researchers in characterization, modeling, and data management areas are engaged in (1) applying advanced technologies to analyze chemical and structural changes within biomass, and (2) storing, tracking, analyzing, and integrating data and understanding across the center.


Current Highlights

image

Identification of key transcription factor that controls chlorophyll degradation and leaf senescence

[Read More]

image

New Insights into Biomass Deconstruction from Deletion of Genes in Caldicellulosiruptor

[Read More]

image

Rapid gene discovery and validation using the BESC Populus association population

[Read More]

image

Characterization of various alkaline pretreatment methods on cellulose structure and accessibility (A joint BESC/ORNL Biofuels SFA effort)

[Read More]

image

BESC Novel Approach to Bioenergy Outreach and Education

[Read More]

image

Switchgrass transcription factors linked to nutrient efficiency in senescence

[Read More]

image

Toward improving tolerance of thermophilic microorganisms to pretreatment inhibitors

[Read More]

image

Field performance of modified switchgrass demonstrates a 'Goldilocks Effect'

[Read More]

image

High-Performance Computing Delineates Chemistry of Lignin Synthesis

[Read More]

image

Review paper summarizes insights from 20 years of bacterial genome sequencing

[Read More]

image

Release of a genome dataset comprised of results from multiple sequencing modalities

[Read More]

Highlights Archive

Publications

  • 03/23/2015
    Homologous expression of the Caldicellulosiruptor bescii CelA reveals that the extracellular protein is glycosylated [ view document]
  • 03/05/2015
    Ethanol production by engineered thermophiles [ view document]
  • 03/03/2015
    Vibrational spectral signatures of crystalline cellulose using high resolution broadband sum frequency generation vibrational spectroscopy (HR-BB-SFG-VS) [ view document]
  • 03/01/2015
    Discrete and structurally unique proteins (tapirins) mediate attachment of extremely thermophilic Caldicellulosiruptor species to cellulose [ view document]
  • 03/01/2015
    Downregulation of GAUT12 in Populus deltoides by RNA silencing results in reduced recalcitrance, increased growth and reduced xylan and pectin in a woody biofuel feedstock [ view document]

more publications