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Unlocking the Rice Immune System

Rice is a staple for half the world’s population and the model plant for grass-type biofuel feedstocks (Photo courtesy of IRRI)

JBEI, UC Davis and Berkeley Lab researchers have identified a bacterial signaling molecule that triggers an immunity response in rice plants, enabling the plants to resist a devastating blight disease. Rice is not only a staple food, it is the model for grass-type advanced biofuels.

Leaving on a Biofueled Jet Plane

Air travels accounts for about two-percent of the annual greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. A new catalytic process for biofuels could significantly reduce this figure. (courtesy of Boeing)

Researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) have developed a catalytic process for converting sugarcane biomass into a new class of aviation fuel and lubricant base oils that could help biorefineries achieve net life-cycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 80-percent.

Biofuel Proteomics: Joint BioEnergy Institute Researchers Use Proteomics to Profile Switchgrass

Switchgrass is a North American native prairie grass widely viewed as one of the most promising of all the biofuel crop candidates. (Photo courtesy of GLBRC)

JBEI researchers used advanced proteomic techniques to identify 1,750 unique proteins in shoots of switchgrass, a native prairie grass viewed as one of the most promising of all the plants that could be used to produce advanced biofuels.

Metabolic Path to Improved Biofuel Production

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Researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute have found a way to increase the production of fuels and other chemicals from biomass fermented by yeast without the need of environmentally harsh pre-treatments or expensive enzyme cocktails.

Sweet Smell of Success: JBEI Researchers Boost Methyl Ketone Production in E. coli

Methyl ketones were discovered more than a century ago in the aromatic evergreen rue plant. They are now used to provide scents in essential oils and flavoring in cheese, but JBEI research shows they could also serve as advanced biofuels. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

JBEI researchers have engineered E. coli bacteria to convert glucose into significant quantities of methyl ketones, a class of chemical compounds primarily used for fragrances and flavors, but highly promising as clean, green and renewable blending agents for diesel fuel.

New Lab Startup Afingen Uses Precision Method to Enhance Plants

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By manipulating a plant’s metabolic pathways, two scientists at Berkeley Lab, Henrik Scheller and Dominique Loqué, have figured out a way to genetically rewire plants to allow for an exceptionally high level of control over the spatial pattern of gene expression, while at the same time boosting expression to very high levels. Now they have launched a startup company called Afingen to apply this technology for developing low-cost biofuels that could be cost-competitive with gasoline and corn ethanol.

Boosting Biogasoline Production in Microbes

Aindrila Mukhopadhyay (left) and Heather Jensen were part of a JBEI team that identified microbial genes which can improve both the tolerance and the production of biogasoline in engineered strains of E. coli. (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt)

Researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have identified microbial genes that can improve both the tolerance and the production of biogasoline in engineered strains of E. coli.

MaxBin: Automated Sorting Through Metagenomes

MaxBin, an automated software program for binning the genomes of individual microbial species from metagenomic sequences is available on-line through JBEI.

MaxBin is an automated software program for binning the genomes of individual microbial species from metagenomic sequences developed at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI).

Going to Extremes for Enzymes

Extremophiles thriving in thermal springs where the water temperature can be close to boiling can be a rich source of enzymes for the deconstruction of lignocellulose.

In the search for enzymes that can break lignocellulose down into biofuel sugars under the extreme conditions of a refinery, chemist Douglas Clark prospects for extremophilic microbes and engineers cellulases of his own.

Bionic Liquids from Lignin

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Bionic liquids – solvents made from lignin and hemicellulose, two by-products of biofuel production – show great promise for liberating fermentable sugars from lignocellulose and improving the economics of biofuels refineries.