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.
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.
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.
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.
BESC researchers are building and applying imaging technologies and platforms to characterize the structure of plant biomass at the molecular level and assess how it is affected by chemical pretreatment. [More]
Leveraging Thermophiles for Biofuels
Because higher temperatures facilitate the deconstruction of lignin and release of simple sugars within plant biomass, thermophilic bacteria are promising candidates for biofuel production systems. [More]
Understanding Microbes Informs Optimization
In addition to their natural ability to break down lignocellulose, C. thermocellum and C. bescii have the surprising capacity to extensively deconstruct biomass (especially grasses) after minimal or no chemical pretreatment, a typically harsh and expensive step in biofuel production. [More]
Improving Tools for Studying Switchgrass
BESC has created a rapid, stable transformation protocol for switchgrass has improved the transformation efficiency from 20% to >90% and decreased the turnaround time for generation of new transformants from months to weeks. [More]
- Deletion of CelA, the Most Abundant Cellulase in Caldicellulosiruptor bescii, Reveals its Crucial Role in the Deconstruction of Lignocellulosic Biomass
- Functional phylogenomics analysis of bacteria and archaea using consistent genome annotation with UniFam
- Metabolic profiling reveals altered sugar and secondary metabolism in response to UGPase overexpression in Populus
- Understanding the commonalities and differences in genomic organizations across closely related bacteria from an energy perspective
- Heterologous complementation of a pyrF deletion in Caldicellulosiruptor hydrothermalis generates a new host for the analysis of biomass deconstruction
This is a random selection of BESC's intellectual property available for licensing. See Intellectual Property for all 32 available.
- Research team first to fully sequence bacterial genome important to fuel and chemical production
- WUOT Interview with Jerry Tuskan on extracting jet fuel from eucalyptus plants
- Improving commercial viability of biofuels
- UGA, ORNL research team engineers microbes for the direct conversion of biomass to fuel
- Lignin Valorization: Improving Lignin Processing in the Biorefinery - in Science
- Keep up with BESC on our blog