A new method uses E. coli to generate DNA with methylation patterns that target microbes recognize and accept as their own, facilitating customization of microbes for biofuels production.

ORNL develops method to customize microbes for better biofuel production

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Scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated a method to insert genes into a variety of microorganisms that previously would not accept foreign DNA, with the goal of creating custom microbes to break down plants for bioenergy.

Sprouted poplar

Video: How You Can Grow JGI's Poplar

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The poplar (Populus trichocarpa) was the first tree ever to have its genome sequenced. Now you can propagate the poplar yourself, find out how in a few easy steps.
CBI students explain their work in an elevator pitch session

Student Showcase Videos

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During the CBI Annual Science Meeting in July 2019, Students working in CBI were asked to prepare a three-minute “elevator” speech to describe their science and how it relates to the overall goals of CBI.  The following videos represent a subset of the participants in the competition.

Laccaria bicolor is fruiting above ground and colonizing the Populus deltoides plant root system below ground in a greenhouse setting. Credit: Jessy Labbe/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

ORNL scientists make fundamental discovery to creating better crops

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. July 22, 2019—A team of scientists led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered the specific gene that controls an important symbiotic relationship between plants and soil fungi, and successfully facilitated the symbiosis in a plant that typically resists it.

The discovery could lead to the development of bioenergy and food crops that can withstand harsh growing conditions, resist pathogens and pests, require less chemical fertilizer and produce larger and more plentiful plants per acre.

Credit: Carsten Külheim/Michigan Tech  Eucalyptus grows well in hot, dry regions and doesn’t need to be irrigated.

Eucalyptus Genes for Biofuel Production

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ORNL researcher David Kainer is working with scientists from Australia, Germany, and Michigan to isolate Eucalyptus genes for biofuel production. They are investigating the genetic basis of variation in oil yield (terpenes) in blue mallee, a eucalyptus native to Australia.

This visualization shows the genes (yellow squares) associated with callus formation in poplar. These genes have equivalents in humans that control the formation of tumors. The network of genes shown in red is expressed along with the callus-associated genes. The genes in blue are suppressed when the hub genes are active. Graphic courtesy of Dan Jacobson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Tree of life: Poplar studies yield human cancer insights

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While studying the genes in poplar trees that control callus formation, scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have uncovered genetic networks at the root of tumor formation in several human cancers.

Art Ragauskus

Ragauskas Helps Lead Biofuel-Related Breakthrough, Gains Honors

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UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair for Biorefining Arthur Ragauskas has built a reputation as a leading researcher in bioenergy and in efficiently turning plant-based materials into fuel.

Jerry Tuskan, CBI Director

‘Highly Cited Researchers’ list includes CBI director

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The list recognizes researchers for exceptional performance, demonstrated by the production of multiple highly cited papers ranking in the top one percent by citations for field and year in Web of Science during the 11-year period 2006-2016.

R&D100 Awards

CBI Wins R&D 100 Award

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The TNT Closing system from CBI is a flexible DNA assembly from universal libraries to generate multi-gene constructs was awarded to Gerald Tuskan and Xiaohan Yang have filed a patent application that provides a predefined three-nucleotide (TNT) signature and a buffer system for a quick on-pot reaction. The Gene assembly speed streamlines steps for a system that is up to 80% faster than other assembly systems. 

SC18 Awards

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Gordon Bell Prize

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The ORNL team of Daniel Jacobson, Wayne Joubert, Deborah Weighill, and David Kanier developed a new “CoMet” algorithm that allows supercomputers to process vast amounts of genetic data and identify genes that may be more susceptible to pain and opioid addiction as well as promising treatments.  By running the algorithm supercomputers are able to successfully process genetic data at a magnitude that is four to five times greater than the latest state-of-the-art approaches.  CoMetis currently being used in projects ranging from bioenergy to clinical genomics

For more information, contact

Tamara Rogers
Tamara Rogers