Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Genomics Code Exceeds Exaops on Summit Supercomputer

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory broke the exascale barrier, achieving a peak throughput of 1.88 exaops—faster than any previously reported science application—while analyzing genomic data on the recently launched Summit supercomputer. The ORNL...
The hCA II active site is flanked by hydrophilic (violet) and hydrophobic (green) binding pockets that can be used to design specific drugs targeting cancer-associated hCAs. Five clinical drugs are shown superimposed in the hCA II active site

Neutron study of glaucoma drugs offers clues about enzyme targets for aggressive cancers

New insights from neutron analysis of glaucoma drugs and their enzyme target may help scientists design drugs that more effectively target aggressive cancers.   A team of researchers led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory used neutron macromolecular...
BraundmeierA_SIU_ORNL

Biology—Telltale microbes

A new process to identify certain microbes in women could be used to diagnose endometriosis without invasive surgery, even before symptoms start. A collaborative research team analyzed bacteria from a small sample of premenopausal women undergoing laparoscopic surgery for suspected...

Using high-performance computing to study co-evolutionary networks in poplar

A cross-disciplinary research team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is using supercomputing to create an unprecedented view of the 3D interactions among components of the cellular machinery in Populus trichocarpa (black cottonwood), a fast-growing perennial tree that shows...
Jerry Tuskan - ORNL Greenhouse

ORNL turning plants into plastic as part of new research project

Developing the next generation of biofuels and plant-based alternatives to petroleum-based plastics is happening at the new Center for Bioenergy Innovation in Oak Ridge. The new center will be housed in the existing greenhouse and lab area of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. ORNL is of one...
Comparative economics of biomass conversion to ethanol

BESC sees mission success with combined microbe, milling biomass processing

With the successful demonstration of a cheaper, more effective method of biomass deconstruction and conversion using a naturally occurring microbe and a standard milling practice, researchers from the Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) have taken a giant step closer to...
Neutron scattering is a valuable technique for studying cell membranes

Neutrons provide the first nanoscale look at a living cell

A research team from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has performed the first-ever direct nanoscale examination of a living cell membrane. In doing so, it also resolved a long-standing debate by identifying tiny groupings of lipid molecules that are likely key to...
Fibrobacter succinogenes chemostat

Generation and Characterization of Acid Tolerant Fibrobacter succinogenes S85

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers in collaboration with Biota Biosciences, Inc., and Elanco Animal Health are working to understand and overcome plant biomass recalcitrance by studying the bacterium Fibrobacter succinogenes S85, an active and dominant cellulolytic...
Alex Lewis, a doctoral student with the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Education, samples a microbial electrolysis cell to measure hydrogen and proton concentrations.

Bacterial boost for bio-based fuels

“Electrical” bacteria are the key ingredient in a new process developed by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory that recycles wastewater from biofuel production to generate hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be used to convert bio-oil into higher grade liquid fuels such...
Roadmap for Commercialization of Specific Terpenes from Plants

Plant-Derived Terpenes: A Feedstock for Specialty Biofuels

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in collaboration with The University of Tennessee, The Australian National Laboratory University, and the University of Florida has published in the journal Trends in Biotechnology a review on a proposed roadmap for the commercialization of...

Understanding how different plant-derived sugars affect the physiology of a biofuel-producing microbe

Researcher’s at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) are working to understand how different sugars derived from plant material affect the metabolism of a cellulolytic, biofuel-producing microorganism. Clostridium thermocellum...
Novel bioreactor design

Microbial attachment to cellulose substrate produces widespread gene expression changes

Researchers in the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) are studying the microbial attachment to cellulose substrate which produces widespread gene expression changes.   Unlike the majority of biofilm forming bacteria, C. thermocellum adheres to substrata that also provide its major...

Temporal Dynamics of In-Field Bioreactor Populations Reflect the Groundwater System and Respond Predictably to Perturbation

In collaboration with researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Colorado State University, The University of Tennessee, The Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The University of Oklahoma and the University of Georgia, Oak Ridge National...
New molecular tool probes detect genes linked to toxic methylmercury

ORNL Researchers can now more quickly identify which microbes produce mercury toxins in the environment

At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, researchers in the Microbial Ecology and Physiology group in the Biosciences Division have developed designer probes that identify microbes that carry the genes for mercury methylation. These molecular probes also measure or quantify, how many specific...

Biggest-ever Populus dataset hands researchers another key to biofuels, materials, metabolite discoveries

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have released the largest-ever single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) dataset of genetic variations in poplar trees, information useful to plant scientists as well as researchers in the fields of biofuels,...

Advances and perspectives on the use of CRISPR/Cas9 systems in plant genomics research

  Genome editing with site-specific nucleases has become a powerful tool for functional characterization of plant genes and genetic improvement of agricultural crops. Among the various site-specific nuclease-based technologies available for genome editing, the clustered regularly...

An innovative platform for quick and flexible joining of assorted DNA fragments

In order to understand and engineer complex traits, as photosynthesis biodesign, molecular cloning tools for flexible, efficient and reliable assembling of multigene constructs from smaller DNA parts are required. Currently, several limitations hinder the speed, fidelity and...

BESC comparative study analyzes best biocatalysts for biofuel production

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center are looking beyond the usual suspects in the search for microbes that can efficiently break down inedible plant matter for conversion to biofuels. A new comparative study from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory-based center...

Boost in isobutanol production credited to BESC-created microbe

Another barrier to commercially viable biofuels from sources other than corn has fallen with the engineering of a microbe that improves isobutanol yields by a factor of 10. The finding of the Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center, published in the journal Metabolic...

Forage Genetics plans to commercialize BESC invention

• The invention provides a genetic mechanism for the reduction of lignin biosynthesis while increasing concentration of desirable flavonoids. • Reduced lignin content increases digestibility and nutritional value of animal feedstocks such as alfalfa, corn and sorghum. •...

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