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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).

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.

Life-Saving Dividends for Synthetic Biology Research: Microbial-Based Antimalarial Drug Shipped to Africa

Jay Keasling with children in a village outside Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo by Gabrielle Tenenbaum)

A synthetic biology project begun 13 years ago by Jay Keasling was culminated with the announcement that a microbial-based version of the antimalarial drug artemisinin has been shipped to African nations where it is most needed.

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 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.

Resistance is Not Futile: Joint BioEnergy Institute Researchers Engineer Resistance to Ionic Liquids in Biofuel Microbes

Researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have identified the genetic origins of a microbial resistance to ionic liquids and successfully introduced this resistance into a strain of E. coli bacteria for the production of advanced biofuels.

Lignin-Feasting Microbe Holds Promise for Biofuels

Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have identified a rain forest microbe that feasts on the lignin in plant leaf litter, making it a potential ally for the cost-effective production of advanced biofuels.

Less Toxic Metabolites, More Chemical Product

By preventing the build-up of toxic metabolites in engineered microbes, a dynamic regulatory system developed at JBEI can help boost production of an advanced biofuel, a therapeutic drug, or other valuable chemical products. The system has already been used to double the production in E. coli of amorphadiene, a precursor to the premier antimalarial drug artemisinin.