BESC Science Retreat

BESC held its Annual Science Retreat in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The retreat was attended by more than 200 members, including researchers, postdocs, students, commercialization council members, industrial affiliates, science advisory board members, and members of the board of directors.

Director Paul Gilna

The BioEnergy Science Center is focused specifically on the challenge of overcoming biomass recalcitrance. If we can manage to understand and solve this challenge, we will not only improve our ability to generate cellulosic ethanol, but we also will open doors to a vast array of renewable and sustainable product pipelines that can serve many different missions”. -Paul Gilna, Director of BESC

Poster Session

BESC researchers, scientists, post docs, students, and staff members of BESC participated in three separate poster sessions during the 2013 BESC Retreat in Chattanooga Tennessee during July. The retreat is a yearly gathering of all BESC members, including board of directors, commercialization council members, affiliates and partner institution representatives for interactive discussions of the science which is BESC.

World Class Laboratory Facilities

BESC management and operational structures and processes ensure that the research teams focus their efforts on the core thematic path by supporting strong focused integrative science, effectively managing milestones, and revising priorities in response to changing demands, needs, and developments as befits an interdisciplinary research program.

BESC Collaboration

The core strength of BESC is its ability to manage and integrate the distinct sets of expertise and staffing distributed across the institutions to yield a synergy that has informed our understanding of recalcitrance beyond our initial expectations. Indeed, we have created a culture where the primacy of collaborative and integrative approaches, expressed in both the research and the management is key to the overall goals of the project.

Recalcitrance and Conversion

BESC has made substantial progress toward understanding, manipulating, and managing plant cell wall recalcitrance and conversion. Many Populus and switchgrass genes that affect plant cell wall recalcitrance can be modified and many of these genetic changes tested have resulted in improved deconstruction potential.

Breaking Down Barriers....

BESC has made huge strides toward developing consolidated bioprocessing microbes - genetically altered microbes, such as yeast, that can digest plant material, extracts its sugar content and turn it into ethanol or more advanced biofuels.

Future Focus...

Developing affordable, sustainable biofuels and reducing our dependence on foreign oil will boost our economy and have huge implications for the nation’s transportation sector

About BESC

The BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) is a multi-institutional (18 partner), multidisciplinary research (biological, chemical, physical and computational sciences, mathematics and engineering) organization focused on the fundamental understanding and elimination of biomass recalcitrance. BESC is one of three Bioenergy Research Centers established by DOE's Office of Science in 2007 to accelerate research toward the development of cost-effective advanced biofuels.

BESC's approach to improve accessibility to the sugars within biomass involves 1) designing plant cell walls for rapid deconstruction and 2) developing multitalented microbes for converting plant biomass into biofuels in a single step (consolidated bioprocessing). Addressing the roadblock of biomass recalcitrance will require a multiscale understanding of plant cell walls from biosynthesis to deconstruction pathways. This integrated understanding would generate models, theories and finally processes that will be used to understand and overcome biomass recalcitrance.

Discover more about BESC research...

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Current Publication Count = 597

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Biomass Formation and Modification

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

Biomass Deconstruction and Conversion

BESC research in biomass deconstruction and conversion targets CBP by studying model organisms and thermophilic anaerobes to understand novel strategies and enzyme complexes for biomass deconstruction.

Characterization and Modeling

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.