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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.

How Sweet It Is: New Tool for Characterizing Plant Sugar Transporters Developed at Joint BioEnergy Institute

A family of six nucleotide sugar transporters never before  described have been characterized in Arabidopsis, a model plant for research in advanced biofuels. (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt)

JBEI researchers have developed a powerful new tool that can help advance the genetic engineering of “fuel” crops for clean, green and renewable bioenergy – an assay that enables scientists to identify and characterize the function of nucleotide sugar transporters, critical components in the biosynthesis of plant cell walls.

The iCLEM Program: An Atypical Summer Job for Bay Area High School Students

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Eight Bay Area high school students are participating in this summer’s iCLEM program, earning money and gaining “college knowledge” while conducting bioenergy research in the state-of-the-art scientific laboratories of the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI).

Berkeley Lab Wins Three 2014 R&D 100 Awards

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Berkeley Lab has won three 2014 R&D 100 awards. This year’s winners include a fast way to analyze the chemical composition of cells, a suite of genetic tools to improve crops, and a method to screen images of 3-D cell cultures for cancer cells. The technologies could lead to advances in biofuels, food crops, drug development, and biomaterials, and a to better understanding of microbial communities, to name a few potential benefits.

The JBEI GT Collection: A New Resource for Advanced Biofuels Research

The JBEI GT Collection, the first glycosyltransferase clone collection specifically targeted for the study of plant cell wall biosynthesis, features GT clones of rice (shown here) and Arabidopsis plants. (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt)

The JBEI GT Collection, the first glycosyltransferase clone collection specifically targeted for the study of plant cell wall biosynthesis, is expected to drive basic scientific understanding of GTs and better enable the manipulation of plant cell walls for the production of biofuels and other chemical products.