Research Highlights

Research Highlights

SC18 Gordon Bell Award

Oak Ridge, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs Share 2018 ACM Gordon Bell Prize

Two US Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories were recently awarded the 2018 Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM’s) Gordon Bell Prize for work done on the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility’s (OLCF’s) Summit supercomputer, the most powerful system in the world. The...
Infected Poplar

Genetic behavior reveals cause of death in poplars essential to ecosystems, industry

Scientists studying a valuable, but vulnerable, species of poplar have identified the genetic mechanism responsible for the species’ inability to resist a pervasive and deadly disease. Their finding, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could lead to...
Methanogen_mercury_study4.jpg

Ecology—Unmasking mercury

Biologists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center have confirmed that microorganisms called methanogens, which are found in anaerobic environments such as soil, water and sewage, can transform mercury into the neurotoxin methylmercury with...
Nanoscale spikes of carbon help catalyze a reaction that generates ammonia from nitrogen and water.

Novel reaction could spark alternate approach to ammonia production

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 2, 2018—The search for a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly method of ammonia production for fertilizer has led to the discovery of a new type of catalytic reaction. Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory used...

Critical plant gene takes unexpected detour that could boost biofuel yields

For decades, biologists have believed a key enzyme in plants had one function—produce amino acids, which are vital to plant survival and also essential to human diets. But for Wellington Muchero, Meng Xie and their colleagues, this enzyme does more than advertised. They had run a series...

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...
ORNL_mouth_microbes

Biology—Lurking mouth microbes

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory-led team cultivated a novel oral microbe, Desulfobulbus oralis, present in adults with periodontitis,an advanced gum disease that affects nearly half of all adults worldwide. By integrating genomic and metabolic techniques with classical...
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...

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