NEWS

Enzyme discovery fast-tracks bioengineering of designer esters for biofuels

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John Field: Modeling ecosystems to combat climate change

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New enzyme breaks down waste for less expensive biofuels, bioproducts

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A new non-GMO method to edit plants with CRISPR

A new non-GMO method to edit plants with CRISPR

An NC State researcher has developed a new way to get CRISPR/Cas9 into plant cells without inserting foreign DNA. This allows for precise genetic deletions or replacements, without inserting foreign DNA. Therefore, the end product is not a genetically modified organism, or GMO.

 

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Chris Ellis: Probing the human and soil microbiome for disease links

Chris Ellis: Probing the human and soil microbiome for disease links

After several years in the private sector exploring the unknown origins of neurodegenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Chris Ellis thinks one of the keys to solving the mystery is at Oak Ridge National Laboratory: the world’s most powerful supercomputer.

Ellis, a computational microbiologist in the Biosciences Division, is hoping to prove a theory that’s been getting more attention in the biomedical field—that microbes may play a key role in the development of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

 

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Student Showcase Videos

Student Showcase Videos

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.

 

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ORNL scientists make fundamental discovery to creating better crops

ORNL scientists make fundamental discovery to creating better crops

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.

 

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Eucalyptus Genes for Biofuel Production

Eucalyptus Genes for Biofuel Production

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.

 

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CBI Wins R&D 100 Award

CBI Wins R&D 100 Award

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.

 

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Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Gordon Bell Prize

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Gordon Bell Prize

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.

 

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Genetic behavior reveals cause of death in poplars essential to ecosystems, industry

Genetic behavior reveals cause of death in poplars essential to ecosystems, industry

Scientists studying a valuable, but vulnerable, species of poplar have identified the genetic mechanism responsible for the species’ inability to resist a pervasive and deadly disease. Their finding, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could lead to more successful hybrid poplar varieties for increased biofuels and forestry production and protect native trees against infection.

 

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Critical plant gene takes unexpected detour that could boost biofuel yields

Critical plant gene takes unexpected detour that could boost biofuel yields

For decades, biologists have believed a key enzyme in plants had one function—produce amino acids, which are vital to plant survival and also essential to human diets.

But for Wellington Muchero, Meng Xie and their colleagues, this enzyme does more than advertised. They had run a series of experiments on poplar plants that consistently revealed mutations in a structure of the life-sustaining enzyme that was not previously known to exist.

 

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Beckham receives the 2018 Beilby Medal and Prize

Beckham receives the 2018 Beilby Medal and Prize

Dr. Gregg Beckham, a recently promoted Senior Research Fellow at NREL, and the Lignin Valorization Team Lead for the Center for Bioenergy Innovation (CBI), has received the Royal Society of Chemistry, Society of Chemical Industry and Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining Beilby Medal and Prize.

 

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Characterizing Lignocellulosic Biomass Strategies

Characterizing Lignocellulosic Biomass Strategies

Diverse characterization methods have been developed to elucidate physicochemical, thermal and morphological properties of biomass and its products. Biofuels Digest (biofuelsdigest.com) posted a Guide to Characterizing Lignocellulosic Biomass compiled by CBI members Arthur J.

 

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CBI authors received Silver Award from The Plant Journal

CBI authors received Silver Award from The Plant Journal

The Silver Award for “Best Original Article” published in The Plant Journal in 2017 was awarded to the authors of “The Physcomitrella patens chromosome-scale assembly reveals moss genome structure and evolution”. CBI authors included: Lee Gunter, Wellington Muchero, Priya Ranjan, and Gerald A. Tuskan.

 

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Gene improves plant growth and conversion to biofuels

Gene improves plant growth and conversion to biofuels

A research team led by the University of Georgia has discovered that manipulation of the same gene in poplar trees and switchgrass produced plants that grow better and are more efficiently converted to biofuels. Due to the composition of plant cell walls, plant material is not efficiently broken down or deconstructed to the basic sugars that are converted to biofuels.

 

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Dan Jacobson : Embracing complexity in biological systems

Dan Jacobson : Embracing complexity in biological systems

Dan Jacobson is illuminating the workings of biological systems from the molecular scale up by leveraging Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s supercomputing resources to create machine and deep-learning techniques more easily understood by humans, an evolving field called explainable artificial intelligence (AI).

 

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Preserving Tennessee’s clean energy tradition

Preserving Tennessee’s clean energy tradition

Clean energy innovation has been an essential part of Tennessee’s fabric for more than eight decades. Tennesseans have continued to contribute to some of our nation’s most significant energy technology breakthroughs, and in the process created jobs, increased international competitiveness…

 

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ORNL turning plants into plastic as part of new research project

ORNL turning plants into plastic as part of new research project

Developing the next generation of biofuels and plant-based alternatives to petroleum-based plastics is happening at the new Center for Bioenergy Innovation in Oak Ridge.

The new center will be housed in the existing greenhouse and lab area of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. ORNL is of one of four locations chosen for the new five-year research project beginning October 1.

 

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Bringing technological advances to bioscience: Jerry Tuskan

Bringing technological advances to bioscience: Jerry Tuskan

It’s been 10 years since the US Department of Energy first established a BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and researcher Gerald “Jerry” Tuskan has used that time and the lab’s and center’s resources and tools to make good on his college dreams of using genomics to study and improve plant species. Now he is getting ready to lead the new Center for Bioenergy Innovation (CBI) at ORNL, a DOE Bioenergy Research Center that will launch in FY2018 with the mission of accelerating the development of specialty plants and processes for a new generation of biofuel.

 

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DOE funds Center for Bioenergy Innovation at ORNL

DOE funds Center for Bioenergy Innovation at ORNL

The Department of Energy has announced funding for new research centers to accelerate the development of specialty plants and processes for a new generation of biofuels and bioproducts. The Center for Bioenergy Innovation (CBI), led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is one of four bioenergy centers chosen by DOE to advance a new biobased economy with the production of fuels and other products directly from nonfood biomass.

 

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Supported by the DOE Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research