Biorenewables Laboratory

BRL 4th Research

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BRL 4th Floor Research


Jarboe group research
The Jarboe lab research program uses Metabolic Engineering to enable the production of biorenewable fuels and chemicals from biomass in a manner that is economically competitive with petroleum-based processes. We are addressing two broad aspects of this goal. (1) Many of the biorenewable fuels and chemicals that are produced by microbial biocatalysts are inhibitory to the microbes, ultimately limiting the economic viability of the process. By increasing the robustness of the microbial biocatalysts, we can improve the process performance. (2) Economically competitive production of biorenewable fuels and chemicals requires a source of cheap biomass-derived sugars. These cheap sugars are often also “dirty”, meaning that they contain contaminant compounds that are inhibitory to the biocatalyst. Removing these contaminants can be prohibitively expensive; instead, we aim to increase the bacterial robustness. We are specifically focusing on the use of fast pyrolysis to release fermentable sugars from biomass (“hybrid processing”).

Nikolau group research
Nikolau group research in BRL focuses on multidisciplinary approaches to the comprehensive understanding of metabolism. The BRL group is particularly focused on the discovery and characterization of novel metabolic processes (e.g. the biosynthesis of fatty acids and hydrocarbons), and their associated biocatalysts, utilizing expanding genomics and computational resources to further these endeavors. These efforts have potential applications in the production of biorenewable products, such as biofuels and chemicals..

Shanks group research

Shao group research

Vigil group research

Yandeau-Nelson group research
Research in the Yandeau-Nelson group focuses on the dissection of genetic networks that underlie metabolic processes in plants (maize) and microbes (yeast and bacteria). We aim to understand how natural genetic variation in or manipulation of these networks impact how organisms respond to environmental cues. Our interdisciplinary research directions integrate classical and molecular genetics, plant biology and genetics, biochemistry, metabolomics, computational biology and bioinformatic approaches. Our work has potential practical applications in the development of biorenewable fuels and chemicals, as well as plant breeding for protection of crops against environmental stresses.