The discovery and development of enzymes and biofuel producing organisms is critical for a successful bioenergy industry. The 2015 DOE workshop report on Lignocellulosic Biomass for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts identifies two major opportunities for basic research that our proposal addresses: (i) Developing new, broad-based genetic systems to access a greater diversity of microorganisms and plants for bioenergy purposes, (ii) Developing broad metabolic engineering techniques to enhance production efficiency of advanced biofuels1. Thus, the identification, characterization, and systems biology analysis of cellulolytic microbes and microbial communities remains an important research area for the DOE and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC). We believe our genome-enabled approaches help develop a fundamental understanding of plant biomass deconstruction in nature and across evolutionary time and will continue to contribute significantly to the field.
The Currie Lab has obtained funding through the GLBRC since 2007 and we are preparing for our ninth and tenth years in which we will continue to use genome-enabled and systems biology approaches to contribute towards generating a fundamental understanding of how microbes and microbial communities deconstruct plant biomass in nature. This research will encompass multiple scales, from individual enzymes, enzyme combinations, and individual microbes, to microbes working together within communities, to the evolution of cellulolytic ability over short and long time scales. In addition, in close collaboration with the Fox-lab, we are continuing to build on our previous GLBRC work to develop a discovery platform to rapidly identify and characterize enzymes of high interest, with particular emphasis on tailoring these enzymes to particular substrates and pretreatment methods. We will also continue to work on our recent efforts to engineer an enzyme expression and secretion system in Streptomyces. Further, as detailed in section B3, the work proposed here contributes towards our efforts to help facilitate developing the capacity to produce new bioproduct from plant biomass.
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