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As new inventions are disclosed from BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) researchers, we will post information about the inventions on this webpage. Use the table below to match your technology needs with BESC disclosures or view all technologies in a particular category by clicking on the category below.
Click on each title to view more information.
|Brunecky, Roman |
|Superactive Cellulase for Biomass Conversion|
National Renewable Energy Laboratory researchers discovery that the thermostable enzyme for C. bescii is a superior degrader of crystalline biomass compared to a traditional cellulase mixture (Cel7)/E1(Cel5) at equivalent enzyme loading. They have shown that CelA purified from C. bescii achieves a much higher extent of conversion on highly crystalline model substrates (Avicel) than traditionally used enzyme.
|Cheng, Max |
|A Broad Environmental Stress-Inducible Promoter and its Application in Crops|
Researchers at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture have isolated a novel promoter sequence from Populus that is highly, yet broadly inducible by high temperatures (40ºC), low temperatures (0ºC), drought, and flooding. This promoter sequence has been cloned, and when expressed in Arabidopsis, has been shown to induce reporter gene function in all tissue types tested (root, leaf, seed pot and flower). Experiments are currently underway to test this promoter sequence in several other economically important crops.
|Davison, Brian |
Dixon, Richard A.
Standaert, Robert F.
Tschaplinski, Timothy J.
|A Novel Monolignol That Reduces Recalcitrance of Plant Cell Walls|
A Novel Monolignol that reduces recalcitrance of plant cell walls
|Bar-Peled, Maor |
|The "In-Microbe", High-yield Production of Sugar Nucleotides and their use in Glycan Production|
|Backe, Jason |
O'Neill, Malcolm A.
York, William S.
|Modified Expression of Genes Significantly Reduces Recalcitrance of Lignocellulosic Biomass|
Biomass is a renewable resource that has shown promise to replace petroleum based fuels, while reduc-ing green house gas emissions. The plant cell walls, which are the dominant component of feedstocks, contain polysaccharides such as cellulose, heteroxylans, and glucomannans that can ultimately be con-verted to fuel. However, the production of biomass-based fuels has not been cost competitive relative to oil or other energy resources. A key challenge is cell walls have built up a natural protection (or recal-citrance) that makes the process of converting polysaccharides to fermentable sugars inefficient.
|Pattathil, Sivakumar |
York, William S.
|The Use of Monoclonal Antibodies in Biomass Characterization and Quantitation|
UGA researchers developed a library of ~200 MAbs that recognize epitope structures characteristic of most major plant cell wall polysaccharides. These MAbs are monospecific with regard to the structure that they bind. They can provide temporal and spatial information about plant cell wall structures at the whole plant, tissue, cell, and sub-cellular levels and can be used to monitor and define changes in wall structure arising from developmental, environmental, and mutational influences. As importantly, MAbs can be used for qualitative and quantitative detection of carbohydrate epitopes in plant ex-tracts. In this document, we describe how MAbs can be used for characterization of biomass materials especially with regards to monitoring changes in cell wall structure that might impact biomass recalci-trance.
|Mohnen, Debra ||Higher Yielding Biomass Plants
Developed Utilizing Newly Discovered
Cell Wall Structures and Proteins|
The researchers have created transgenic plants, which have a higher biomass potential given increased plant size. The new plants also have a decreased resistance to enzymes, which in turn will decrease the cost of converting the plant into biofuel. The new framework allows for understanding cell wall synthesis better, and subsequently enables the creation of more transgenic plants
|Craven, Kelly ||Grass Fungal Endophytes and Uses Thereof|
The invention provides isolated fungal endophytes and synthetic combinations thereof with host grass plants. Methods for inoculating grass plant with the endophytes, for propagating the grass-endophyte combinations, and for producing feeds and biofuels from grass-endophyte combinations are also provided.
|Chen, Fang |
Dixon, Richard A.
|Transcription Factors for Modification of Lignin Content in Plants|
The invention provides methods for modifying lignin, cellulose, xylan, and hemicellulose content in plants, and for achieving ectopic lignification and, for instance, secondary cell wall synthesis in pith cells, by altered regulation of a WRKY transcription factor. Nucleic acid constructs for altered WRKY-TF expression are described. Transgenic plants are provided that comprise modified pith cell walls, and lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose content. Plants described herein may be used, for example, as improved biofuel feedstock and as highly digestible forage crops.
|Udvardi, Michael ||Regulating Nutrient Allocation in Plants|
The invention provides coding and promoter sequences for a VS-1 and AP-2 gene, which affects the developmental process of senescence in plants. Vectors, transgenic plants, seeds, and host cells comprising heterologous VS-1 and AP-2 genes are also provided. Additionally provided are methods of altering nutrient allocation and composition in a plant using the VS-1 and AP-2 genes.
|Wang, Zeng-Yu ||Method for Transformation of Grasses|
The invention provides methods for transforming grass plants with Agrobacterium. The invention allows creation of transgenic grass plants without the need for callus as a target tissue for transformation, thus providing a rapid method for the production of transgenic grass plants. Transgenic grass plants produced by this method are also provided.
|Elkins, James ||Caloramator sp. Tolerance of Pretreatment Inhibitors from LIgnocellulosics|
ORNL inventors discovered a novel microorganism that displays exceptional tolerance to several growth inhibitors generated during dilute acid pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass. Vanillin, furfural, hydroxymethylfurfural and lignin are known to inhibit the growth of microorganisms, such as yeast, during fermentation of sugars to alcohols. The new, isolated organism can be used as a source of resistance factors which could then be engineered into advanced biocatalysts for consolidated bioprocessing of biomass into fuels.
|Lynd, Lee ||Cellulose and Xylan Fermentation by Novel Anaerobic Thermophilic Clostridia Isolated from Self-Heated Biocompost|
Cellulose and xylan fermentation by novel anaerobic thermophilic clostridia isolated from self-heated biocompost
|Zhang, Y.H. Percival ||Recombinant Gram-Positive Microorganism Growing on Cellulose asas the Sole Carbon Source in Defined Media|
This invention provides the genetic engineering technologies and the defined media to convert gram-positive microorganisms for a low-cost, consolidated bio-processing (CBP) platform. This technology can be applied for producing advanced biofuels and other bio-based products with lignocellulosic material as feedstock in the defined media without any expensive organic nutrients and cellulases.
|Mann, David |
|Identification of a Novel Promoter for Tissue Culture Transformation|
Researchers at the University of Tennessee have discovered a method to induce strong expression of any gene conferring resistance to pathogens, herbicides, salt, cold, drought, or insects by using two newly identified and recently characterized switchgrass promoters. These promoters stimulate constitutive expression with 2x and 4x greater activity than maize ubiquitin 1 (ZmUbi1) and CaMV 35S, respectively, driving gene expression in all tissues and organs of switchgrass. These novel components have the potential to be integrated into all monocot transformation systems, especially where multiple gene activation is needed. Interestingly, these promoters have a broad spectrum of taxonomic activity with additional expression capabilities in other monocots, dicots and ferns.
|Peng, Yanhui |
|Glyphosate-Inducible Promoter and Its Use|
The subject application provides polynucleotides, compositions thereof and methods for regulating gene expression in a plant using a promoter that initiates transcription in an inducible manner. In a further aspect of the invention, methods for modulating expression of a gene product in a stably transformed plant comprising the steps of (a) transforming a plant cell with a DNA construct comprising the disclosed promoter or fragments thereof that are capable of driving the expression of an operably linked nucleic acid sequence operably linked to at least one nucleotide sequence; (b) growing the plant cell under plant growing conditions and (c) regenerating a stably transformed plant from the plant cell wherein the induced expression of the operably linked nucleotide sequence alters the phenotype of the plant.
|Biswal, Ajaya |
|Improve Biochemical Fermentation Utilizing Modified Transgenic Rice and Switchgrass|
Overexpression of the foxtail milled (Setaria italica L.) pectin acetylesterase 1 (SiPAE1) gene in rice resulted in increased growth and biomass yirld and improved ethanol yirld from 18-56% in diverse over-expression lines compared to wild type and vector control lines.
|Brown, Steve |
|Nucleic Acid Molecules Conferring Enhanced Ethanol Tolerance and Microorganisms Having Enhanced Tolerance to Ethanol|
The present invention provides isolated nucleic acid molecules which encode a mutant acetaldehyde-CoA/alcohol dehydrogenase or mutant alcohol dehydrogenase and confer enhanced tolerance to ethanol. The invention also provides related expression vectors, genetically engineered microorganisms having enhanced tolerance to ethanol, as well as methods of making and using such genetically modified microorganisms for production of biofuels based on fermentation of biomass materials
|Davison, Brian |
|Scanning Probe Microscopy with Spectroscopic Molecular Recognition|
ORNL researchers developed an innovative imaging method that possesses the imaging capability of scanning near-field ultrasound holography and the chemical specificity of reverse photoacoustic spectroscopy. This imaging method can achieve chemical differentiation with nanometer resolution. Atomic force microscopy is a well established technique for imaging surface features of a nanometer or less. In conventional methods, a cantilever has a tip capable of making a nanometer sized contact. However, any small variation in distance between the probe and the sample surface can result in a large change in the contact force between the probe’s tip and the sample. To address this challenge, the invention includes two independent oscillators and is able to distinguish the frequencies of the two acoustic waves applied to the probe. In addition, electromagnetic energy is applied to the sample, causing a change in phase of the second acoustic wave. The device can also be used for determining chemical characteristics of a sample by applying different acoustic waves.
|Chen, Fang |
Dixon, Richard A.
|Compositions and Methods for Improved Plant Feedstock|
The invention provides methods for modifying lignin content and composition in plants and achieving associated benefits therefrom involving altered expression of newly discovered MYB4 transcription factors. Nucleic acid constructs for modifying MYB4 transcription factor expression are described. By over-expressing the identified MYB4 transcription factors, for example, an accompanying decrease in lignin content may be achieved. Plants are provided by the invention comprising such modifications, as are methods for their preparation and use.
|Stewart, Neal ||Engineering Male Sterility or Non-Transgenic Pollen by Pollen-Specific Expression of a Restriction Enzyme|
The present invention relates to methods of blocking or reducing genetically modified plant (GMO) pollen flow using a “non-lethal” approach. In this aspect, at least one transgenic polynucleotide of interest is linked to a pollen-ablation construct as described herein. The pollen-ablation construct contains a polynucleotide encoding a restriction enzyme that renders the transgenic pollen unable to fertilize a sexually compatible ovule.
|Chung, DaeHwan |
Farkas, Joel A.
|Restriction / Modifiction Polypetides, Polynucleotides, and Methods|
University of Georgia researchers have invented a method to more efficiently decompose biomass, which lowers the cost of producing biofuel. The method centers around a bacterium called Caldicellulosiruptor, which as has unique properties that make it more conducive for processing a type of biomass known as lignocellulsic. The modification of the bacterium DNA will improve the efficiency of converting biomass into fuels. Furthermore, the researchers have developed general procedures that can be utilized across other sections of the bacterium species.
|Mielenz, Jonathan ||Consolidated Bioprocessing Method using Thermophilic Microorganisms|
Here we have shown that two microorganisms that normally would not co-exist due to differences in temperature optimums can be grown with one at suboptimal temperature, and together, they uniquely convert biomass to fermentation chemicals more rapidly and efficiently than either microorganism could accomplish alone. Additionally the two microorganisms provide different depolymerizing enzymes so act synergistically to more efficiently breakdown the biomass carbohydrates, while leaving lignin intact. Also, these microorganisms can be grown on biomass sequentially providing initial biological “pretreatment” at one temperature and a more complete fermentation with the second microorganism as the other temperature.
|Stewart, Neal ||Genes to Increase Growth in Monocots|
Researchers at the University of Tennessee have identified switchgrass genes that increase biomass yield and cellulose content in switchgrass and have potential to increase biomass yield and cellulose content in other monocot species such as corn, rice and barley. When the sequence of the derived amino acids were compared with other plant homolog genes, the cluster analysis showed that the genes were clustered into three groups, and each switchgrass gene is clustered with its homolog from other monocot species such as rice, maize, and barley, with a high percentage of amino acid identity (up to 98%). Transient expression analysis of the switchgrass gene for subcellular localization using a fluorescent protein marker showed that the protein was localized to the plant plasma membrane. Transgenic switchgrass plants overexpressing the switchgrass gene were produced and the plants looked phenotypically normal and showed an increase in the plant height, number of tillers, and dry biomass weight.
|Li, Yongchao |
|Universal Gene Transfer Technology for Gram Positive Bacteria|
The present invention provides a sonoporation-based method that can be universally applied for delivery of compounds into Gram positive bacteria. Gram positive bacteria which can be transformed by sonoporation include, for example, Bacillus, Streptococcus, Acetobacterium, and Clostridium. Compounds which can be delivered into Gram positive bacteria via sonoporation include nucleic acids (DNA or RNA), proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, viruses, small organic and inorganic molecules, and nano-particles.
|Adams, Michael A.|
|Gene and Gene Clusters that Enable Degradation of Recalcitrant Biological Materials|
Dr. Adam’s group at The University of Georgia has discovered the identity of a group of genes that enable a microorganism to convert untreated woody plant biomass, such as poplar wood chips, to soluble materials that can be used by the same organism or by another to produce biofuels, such as hydrogen and ethanol. The discovery was made from an analysis of the genomes of two very closely related microorganisms Anaerocellum thermophilum and Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus, only one of which, Anaerocellum thermophilum, is able to grow on unprocessed woody plant biomass. The genes that confer this property to Anaerocellum thermophilum are termed PBU for plant biomass utilization. Many of the PBU genes are present in Anaerocellum thermophilum as gene clusters.
|Lynd, Lee ||Selection of Celluloytic Microbes with High Growth Rates|
Selection of celluloytic microbes with high growth rates
|Bhave, Ramesh R.|
|Flow-through Pretreatment of Lignocellulosic Biomass with Inorganic Nanoporous Membranes|
A process for the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass is provided. The process generally includes flowing water through a pretreatment reactor containing a bed of particulate lignocellulosic biomass to produce a pressurized, high-temperature hydrolyzate exit stream, separating solubilized compounds from the hydrolyzate exit stream using an inorganic nanoporous membrane element, fractionating the retentate enriched in solubilized organic components and recycling the permeate to the pretreatment reactor. The pretreatment process provides solubilized organics in concentrated form for the subsequent conversion into bio-fuels and other chemicals.
|Bhave, Ramesh R.||Inorganic Nanoporous Membranes for High Temperature Pretreatment of Lignocellulosic Biomass|
An inorganic membrane element and a pretreatment process are provided. The inorganic membrane element includes a tubular structure having an inner separating layer, an outer supporting layer, and at least one intermediate layer interposed between the separating and supporting layers, where the separating layer is nanoporous to selectively retain solutes while permitting the transfer of high-temperature solvents therethrough. The pretreatment process utilizes the inorganic membrane element to provide solubilized organics in concentrated form for the subsequent conversion into bio-fuels and other chemicals.
|Adams, Michael A.|
Albersheim, Ivana G.
Hao, Zhangying A.
Hunt, Kimberly D.
Mohanty, Sushree P.
|Plants with Altered Pectin and Lignin Biosynthesis and with Improved Growth and Recalcitrance|
Dr. Mohnen's group at the University of Georgia has identified a clade of genes that are associated with the control of the biosynthesis of both pectin and lignin (and possibly xylan). Mutations of these genes in certain plants (including switchgrass and Populus) lead to considerable reduction of recalcitrance (v. wild type), as shown by means of bacterial degradation of modified biomass. Furthermore, Populus plants bearing some of these mutations have exhibited a considerable increase in height and stem diameter (v.wild type). Plants bearing these mutations may prove suitable for economically viable extraction and use of carbohydrates from plant cell wall, as recalcitrance is greatly reduced and rate of overall growth of modified plants increase.
|Passian, Ali |
|Mode-synthesizing Atomic Force Microscopy (MSAFM) and Mode-Synthesizing Sensing (MSS)|
The invention allows for the physical/mechanical, and chemical, nanoscale features of various material samples to be measured. The invention provides nanoscale surface as well as subsurface information. With high resolution, the subsurface material such as embedded nanoparticles or other material inhomogeneities can be resolved with a resolution comparable to other existing atomic force microscopy-based approaches.
|Davison, Brian |
Narula, Chaitanya K.
|Zeolitic catalytic conversion of alcohols to hydrocarbons|
A method for catalytically converting an alcohol to a hydrocarbon without requiring purified or concentrated alcohol was invented by ORNL researchers. This approach can be used for relatively dilute bio-mass produced alcohols, such as those found in a biomass fermentation reactor.
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